Allied Running Club gives kids summer of learning, goal setting

Thursday is race day for all the kids in the Allied Running Club.

"We've been working all summer to get the kids prepared to run this one mile race in their community park," said Karen Floeckher, known by the kids as "Coach Flo", an Allied Running Club volunteer.

Their park is Marlborough Park, and it's hosting dozens of elementary school kids for the race.

"There are kids who are a little resistant in the beginning, wanted to walk, didn't want to push themselves," said Floeckher.

Eight weeks later you may not believe that. They all crossed the finish line, but they're getting more than a medal when they do.

"We're able to provide positive opportunities for them. Sometimes costs can be prohibitive especially in the racing community," said Floeckher.

The kids gained a summer of learning, motivation and stability. The Allied Running Club also teaches the kids about muscles, bones, the heart, the brain, and how food is fuel and hydration is important.

They also receive something tangible.

"A lot of the kids show up at the park with flip flops," said Floeckher.

A pair of shiny new sneakers. A grant allows each runner to get a new pair of running shoes. It's essential equipment they may not be able to afford.

"They're comfortable, they feel like they're able to be successful," said Floeckher.

"I've definitely been able to run more. I've had more endurance," said Claudia Mena.

Claudia Mena is one runner putting them to good use.

"She's always running, she's always encouraging other kids to run," said Matt Raines with MSCR. "She's an inspiration not just to the kids, but to the staff too."

She's a team leader that didn't think much of running when she joined the club three years ago. Now, she's one of the faster runners. She placed 2nd in Thursday's race.

"This isn't supposed to end just this summer. This is a jumping off point so they can go on and get plugged in to really positive groups," said Floeckher.

Thanks to the running club, Mena plans on doing just that.

"I want to do track and cross country," said Mena.

Running has also given her something priceless.

"I run with my cousins and sometimes my dad. Sometimes a big group of people will run; we'll run together," said Mena.

The Allied Running Club supplies kids not only with shoes, but uniforms and other equipment.

They welcome monetary donations, and those who want to give their time.

If you'd like to do either, visit Fleet Feet Madison's webiste, they're a supporter of the Allied Running Club.

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