Rising New York Road Runners Leaders Set to Run 13.1 to Coney Island
Of the 27,000+ runners in the Popular Brooklyn Half on May 19, five are involved with Rising New York Road Runners, NYRR’s free youth running and fitness platform that serves 267,000 kids nationwide. These five runners will be chasing their own goals and dreams in their run to Coney Island, as well as running to inspire the kids in their programs.
Maureen Carson, program lead, PS 691 Bronx Little School, Bronx
Maureen Carson, 57, ran track and cross country in high school and later took up road racing, completing the New York City Marathon five times. She’s been coaching with NYRR youth programs for the past six years, despite significant health challenges. In 2013 Maureen was diagnosed with hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM), an abnormally thickened septal wall in the heart. “I was not able to run well at all for two years,” says Maureen, who had open heart surgery in 2016 to correct the problem. She was able to start running again without symptoms four months later.
In early 2017 Maureen developed a stress fracture in her right hip and had to take more time off. Now trying to get back to running by “training smart,” she’ll run the Popular Brooklyn Half on May 19—her first time doing the race since 2009.
“Most of the kids on our team know about all the problems I had,” she says. “I hope they are inspired by the fact that I will never give up running, and by how much I love it.”
Kimberly Delaney, program lead, P.S. 199Q Maurice Fitzgerald, Long Island City
Like many people, Kimberly Delaney started running to lose weight. “Then I fell in love with it,” says Kimberly, 39, who completed the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon—her first 26.2—and the 2018 United Airlines NYC Half.
Now she’s preparing for the Popular Brooklyn Half and sharing her experience with her students. “Sharing my training stories with them really got them interested in running,” she says. “They found it amazing how I started a goal and finished, and they loved seeing my medal!” She hopes some of her students will coming to cheer for her at the Popular Brooklyn Half. “They are excited,” she says.
Kimberly’s hopes that by seeing her run, her kids will transmit their enthusiasm to their families. “I wish my kids could attend the programs on the weekend,” she says. “It’s not easy for them and their parents.”
Sergio Torres, parent volunteer, Smiles from Heaven Running Club, Brooklyn
Sergio Torres has arthritis, and a few years ago it was so bad he was barely able to walk, let alone run. “Every day I would try to go out and run,” says Sergio, 39. “I kept getting better.” Incredibly, he is now able to run races from 5K to the marathon.
Sergio volunteers with Smiles from Heaven, a running club and Rising New York Road Runners site in Brooklyn. He’s a regular at NYRR Open Run Brooklyn Bridge Park, where he accompanies many other teammates and family members.
“With the disability that I have, I still go out and show the kids that I can run like anybody else,” he says. He’s looking forward to running the Popular Brooklyn Half and cheering at the Rising New York Road Runners at the Popular Brooklyn Half for youth on the boardwalk afterward.
Lalita Kovvuri, parent coordinator, PS 244Q The Active Learning Elementary School (TALES), Queens
A competitive track and field athlete growing up in India, Lalita Kovvuri, 40, will run the Popular Brooklyn Half on May 19, a stepping stone toward her goal of completing the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon. “The marathon is on my bucket list,” says Lalita, who ran the SHAPE Women’s Half-Marathon in April. “If I am able to complete the Brooklyn Half I will consider myself one step closer to achieving my goal.”
Lalita has another motivation as well: to inspire students. “Kids learn from the adults around them,” she said. “I work with a great staff at TALES, and we have many runners who inspire the kids to do the same. The kids listen to us talk about our runs and see us in running clothes and the pictures we post up after runs and get inspired to stay active and moving.”
Aileen Campuzano, program assistant, MS 821K Sunset Park Prep, Brooklyn
A school safety agent, Aileen Campuzano has a special mission at the 2018 Popular Brooklyn Half. “Pushing and motivating has been inspiring for me as a runner,” says Aileen, who works as an NYPD school safety agent. “This experience allows the kids and I to work together in a strenuous situation. They see a real person outside the uniform.”
On a personal level, Aileen runs for stress relief. “Stress is a common factor which my peers and I run to break away from,” she says. “Running is a personal escape for me—it allows me to think and digest what’s at hand at the moment.”
Aileen strives to inspire her students—and they inspire her in turn. “Our kids are so dedicated and strong,” she says. “I’m proud of them, always.”