Join us for a panel discussion on the transformative power of running. Several incredible runners will share their stories of compassion, community, and redemption--and inspire you to #ResolveToRun throughout 2017.
When Ken Festa, 53, began volunteering at Back on My Feet, a program the combats homelessness through the power of running and community support, he never thought that the men and women he was volunteering for would be the ones that helped him. Having run over 140 NYRR races and 15 New York City Marathons, Ken worried he was losing his passion for the sport that introduced him to his love of New York City and his love for his wife. Ken tells his running partners that running helped him overcome alcohol abuse and is what has led to his success today.
A teacher for the New York City public school system for nearly 20 years, Shawanda Weems has received national recognition for her efforts in improving the health of her students through NYRR's free youth running programs. Motivated by personal experience and a diabetes diagnosis in 2004, Shawanda established the NYRR Young Runners after-school program at her school. Soon after, she set up the NYRR Mighty Milers program. In 2012, Shawanda was honored by the White House as a “Champion of Change” for the programs' effect on the students in her University Heights school. In November 2016, she ran the TCS New York City Marathon with a former student and youth runner, Kiara Fernandez, who she coached from fifth grade through high school.
Geoff McGrane first discovered his passion for distance running two decades ago. A major turning point in his life came in June 2014, when Geoff met Gary Genovas, a friend with a disability who was open to running marathons together as a duo team. Since then, the pair's journey has taken them to Scranton, Boston, and New York City, where they have completed each city's version of 26.2 in times ranging from 2:58 to 3:03.
Jen Correa, of Staten Island, wasn’t a natural born runner. As a self-described “average” kid growing up, Jen struggled with confidence and finding her own identity. It was in her twenties, when a friend urged her to join her in a race, when she realized her passion for running. “Running is the one consistent thing in my adult life. It's how I stay strong in this crazy world.” Jen is no stranger to challenges. Her husband, Peter, was a first responder on 9/11, then in 2002, as a member of the Army Reserves, was deployed to Kuwait and then Iraq. “I spent day after day staring at CNN praying for his safe return. “Running moved me away from the tv and back to a place of hope.” Like many others living in Staten Island, Jen lost her entire home when Hurricane Sandy hit, and almost lost her husband as well. “My kids and I evacuated to Brooklyn, and Peter stayed behind with his friend to keep an eye on the house. He planned to leave if he thought it was getting too bad, but it came in too fast. The water filled the basement and was filling the main floor of our raised ranch. My neighbors’ house crashed into ours and knocked it off the foundation. My husband was forced to leave by floating on another neighbor’s roof. Before he left, he called to say goodbye to me. He floated and then swam for 2 hours before reaching a safe place out of the water. He then called to tell me he was alive but everything was gone. Six weeks later someone gave me a pair of running shoes, knowing that I had lost everything. Running was the thing that kept me going, kept me sane, and reminded me that I was strong. Nothing was going to break me.”