Jenny Simpson, Tiki Barber Help NYRR Celebrate 20 Years of Free Youth Running

Jenny Simpson, Tiki Barber Help NYRR Celebrate 20 Years of Free Youth Running

Tiki Barber and Michael Capiraso distribute free New Balance sneakers to students of PS 676K in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Tiki Barber and Michael Capiraso distribute free New Balance sneakers to students of PS 676K in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

As school days go, this was one to remember for the students of PS 676K. NYRR partied like it was 1999 again as the organization returned to Red Hook, Brooklyn, on Tuesday, January 29, for a special celebration.

In January 1999, NYRR’s free youth running and fitness programs originated as an after-school program at one New York City public school in Red Hook. In two decades, these offerings have expanded throughout the five boroughs and across the country. From humble beginnings, the program now serves nearly 250,000 children nationwide.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary, it was fitting that the organization returned to the location of the original site to give students some free New Balance shoes as part of NYRR and New Balance’s 1 for You 1 for Youth initiative. Students also got to play games with Olympian Jenny Simpson, Rising New York Road Runners ambassador and special advisor, and former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber, an NYRR Team for Kids ambassador.

Fun was had. Smiles were ever-present. Laces were tied. Memories were made.

Designed to get kids moving and foster a lasting love for physical fitness at a young age, Rising New York Road Runners gives kids—in underserved and high-need communities—access to the sport of running.

“New York Road Runners has long stood for providing high-quality running programs that make the sport accessible to people of all ages and abilities, and we’re thrilled to be celebrating 20 years of free youth running,” said Michael Capiraso, president and CEO of NYRR.

As well as marking the 20th anniversary, the event was extra special as Simpson handed out the 20,000th pair of shoes distributed by NYRR to children in need since 2007.

Jenny Simpson giving a pair of New Balance shoes to a Rising New York Road Runners participant at the 1 for You 1 for Youth shoe distribution in Red Hook.

Jenny Simpson giving a pair of New Balance shoes to a Rising New York Road Runners participant at the 1 for You 1 for Youth shoe distribution in Red Hook.

For Simpson, the energy at the event brought back fond memories of her time in school.

“It’s so much fun being the adult looking at the faces of these young kids,” she said. “I remember being that young, enthusiastic face that just wanted to get all this energy out. Sports instills confidence in people. It did for me and these kids are finding their confidence through sports.”

Simpson also commended NYRR for its commitment to not only kids, but also to the community at large.

“Any kid can get involved with NYRR at any age,” she added, “so providing that access—and doing it consistently for 20 years—bravo to them.”

Kids got to play games with Olympian Jenny Simpson at the 1 for You 1 for Youth shoe distribution in Red Hook.

Kids got to play games with Olympian Jenny Simpson at the 1 for You 1 for Youth shoe distribution in Red Hook.

Priscilla Figueroa, principal of PS 676K said it a was a “milestone” moment for the children in the school.

“I would have remembered this if something like this happened when I was in school. This is important for them,” she said.

For Figueroa, the partnership with New York Road Runners gives kids the confidence to unlock their potential.

“To have New York Road Runners here for this celebration is great. The partnership is really important, not just for our school and the development we made here in physical education, but also in the community. Those kids who received new sneakers are very thankful for them and now they get to utilize them in activities like this.”

Learn more about how NYRR is celebrating 20 years of youth free running.

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