This giving season, leading up to Giving Tuesday on November 27, 2018, we are highlighting our youth leaders who served as Junior Coaches this past summer. Members of our alumni program LACE Up, were employed by Chicago Run to help facilitate summer programming at three sites across the city. These young adults were involved with Chicago Run programs before they started high school and felt inspired to get more heavily involved and serve as mentors and leaders for their younger peers.

Will you give this year to support emerging leaders like Derrick, Christian, Celeste, and Martin?

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“Being a coach for Chicago Run was one of the best experiences of my life. I’ve always been interested in coaching and I was blessed to be a Junior Coach for the Summer Strides program in Little Village this year. It was full of fun and positivity. We kept pushing each other to be better and we were. It was a moment where you could really rely on your team to support you. Coaching gives you a chance to help others who depend on you which creates a bond that’s unbreakable. I am thankful for the opportunity I was provided.”

- Derrick Norman, age 17 (above, left)

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“Working with Chicago Run this past summer renewed my passion for running. The encouragement I saw from one runner to the other not only inspired me but also reminded me why I started running in the first place. Running provided me with a safe space filled with people who were constantly encouraging me at a time in my life when I really needed it. Seeing the youth in these programs encourage each other every day filled me with so much joy. I hope to be back next year to see their progress!”

-Christian Ureña, age 21 (above, right)

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“I became a Junior Coach for the Summer Strides program in hopes of teaching others running techniques, but in return I learned something better. I learned that running isn’t so much of a solo activity rather a group activity. We come together as one community and build a bond like no other. Not only that but working together can be motivating and help you achieve your goal. I simply cannot wait for the next summer program.”

-Celeste Pedroza, age 15 (above, right)

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“I was one of the junior coaches at the 2018 Summer Strides program in Little Village.  For starters, it was a ton of fun and a blast!  It was something I looked forward to each morning; running with the participants or playing games with them to make exercise more fun. I enjoyed seeing familiar faces that I hadn't seen in a long time.  The bonds and friendships were still there no matter how much time has passed. I consider the participants and Chicago Run staff my family. It was an experience that I would give anything to be a part of again.  Whether it was laughing while running laps or doing high-knees during practice, it was always something that I enjoyed every second of.  As a junior coach I was also able to lead the participants and answer any questions they had.  Ultimately, everyone had a great time and most importantly had a place where they could relax, have fun, and get support from the whole Chicago Run team.  Summer 2019 here I come!”

-Martin Garcia, age 15 (above, right)