The LACE Up! program is designed for Chicago Run program alumni who are now in high school or college. These young adults are given opportunities to build leadership, mentoring, coaching, and career-readiness skills that will aid in their success through high school and beyond. Some of the participants in this program are employed by Chicago Run to serve as Junior Coaches for our Summer Strides program and help coach and train their younger peers.

Meet these amazing young leaders:


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David Flores

David Flores comes from an immigrant family, who migrated to Chicago. David has been a Chicago Run participant since the organization began in 2008. David, now a Senior at Lane Tech, was a participant in both the Runners and Running Mates programs while an elementary student at CICS Bucktown. In his free time, David is very interested in visual arts & fashion design. He hopes to combat social injustices and spread peace & love through his innovative art projects. David is also very passionate about helping youth and he views coaching as a means to give back to younger runners that were in his shoes before.

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Martin Garcia

Martin lives in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago. He has lived there his entire life and chose to go to Infinity Math, Science, and Technology high-school over some selective enrollment schools so he could stay close to home and contribute to his home community. Martin, now a Sophomore in High School, started with Chicago Run in 8th grade as a Running Mates participant. Being a self-starter, Martin was critical to bringing the Running Mates program to Infinity, the first high-school to be involved in that program. While Martin didn’t grow up as a runner, he now is very passionate about the sport & believes in the power of running to open many paths and opportunities in life. With his vast experience & knowledge, Martin is excited to help others accomplish their goals & inspire them as a Chicago Run Coach.

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Amy Jasso

Amy was born and raised in Little Village neighborhood on the South side of Chicago. First starting in 7th grade, she’s now approaching her junior year of high school at Walton Payton, hoping to be a part of Chicago Run for more years to come. She hopes to encourage other kids to run not only for a healthier lifestyle but for the enjoyment of it. She plans on completing a couple of marathons along with triathlons over the next couple of years. She’s always enjoyed running as well as drawing/ painting. She enjoys attending the summer program at little village with her sister along with friends. Amy is excited to help others join the program as well as assist other students while coaching.

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Zayra Juarez

Zayra was raised in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago and has been in Chicago Run programs since 8th grade. Zayra joined as a way to exercise and ended up loving the experiences Chicago Run gave her. Before Chicago Run, she didn't envision herself as someone who could cross the finish line. But with the help of her coaches at Chicago Run, she has been able to finish anything she puts her mind to. Becoming a Chicago Run coach has given Zayra the opportunity to encourage younger runners to meet their goals and help them cross the finish line.

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Derrick Norman

Derrick was born and raised in the Austin community of Chicago. He hopes to become a lawyer one day, but is an athlete at heart. Derrick, now a Junior in High School, started with Chicago Run in 6th grade as a Running Mates participant and has a strong passion for helping kids. During the summer, Derrick is excited to use this passion for athletics and helping kids as a Chicago Run Coach.

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Celeste Pedroza

Celeste has been involved with the Chicago Run program for more than 5 years. Now a Sophomore at Nobel Street, Celeste began her involvement with Chicago Run at CICS Bucktown as a Running Mates participant. Running has been an important aspect in her life, as it helps her think and relieve stress. Celeste is a very social person, and enjoys dancing &  listening to music in her free time. By being a Chicago Run Coach, Celeste hopes to build strong relationships with others in order to make them better runners & encourage them to push themselves and never give up.

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Christian Ureña

Christian was born and raised in Chicago where he attended UIC College Prep. After graduating he started school at The University of Michigan where he is currently studying Movement Science in the School of Kinesiology. He hopes to eventually get his DPT and help injured athletes get back to health. He first got involved with Chicago Run back in 4th grade when he attended C.I.C.S. Bucktown Elementary. He has remained involved with the organization and is currently on the Marathon Charity Team for his second year

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Alejandro Vargas

Alejandro comes from the Humboldt Park neighborhood in Chicago. He started running with Chicago Run in 3rd grade, when he attended C.I.C.S Bucktown. He then attended Walter Payton College Prep where he continued to run. Alejandro is now an upcoming junior at Arkansas State University. He is majoring in international business. He is also a member of the Cross Country and Track and Field teams at Arkansas State. Alejandro enjoys running and getting to know the kids he coaches.