Run to Play: Do It For the Kids

The phrase “do it for the kids” evokes a few different things for me. This saying often ends up being the rationale for people’s misguided causes, like when a gaggle of grownups tried to get Harry Potter banned from libraries and schools when it was first released. They thought magic was bad for children or something, but Harry never hurt nobody, HE TAUGHT ME TO LOVE THE WRITTEN WORD. But that’s somewhat off topic. People also “do it for the kids” when they’re trying to accomplish something that’s difficult, but also worthwhile (see Urban Dictionary definition). Then some of us get the opportunity to actually do something for the kids, and not just hypothetical kids, like, real kids, and you find yourself using this phrase in earnest, but feeling like a goof every time you do. This is the place I currently find myself. So, I’m writing this post for a few different reasons: so I can explain to people the “it” I’m doing, introduce “the kids”, hopefully convince you (yup, you) to donate to my it, and so I never actually have to say “do it for the kids” again. Here’s a five W breakdown.

Who: Me, duh, and Team Urban Initiatives.

What: Training for, and eventually running, the Chicago Marathon with Team UI, while raising funds to support UI’s Work to Play program at Nathanael Greene Elementary in McKinley Park.

Where: Grant Park? (lolidk).

When: October 11th, 2015 (!!!!!).

Why: To spread the word about UI’s great work and, most importantly, to provide Nathanael Greene Elementary 2nd-5th graders with everything they’ll need to play on a UI soccer league. This includes: passionate and quality coaching, safe game and practice spaces, nutritious snacks, gear, and transportation to and from games across the greater Chicago area.

A little bit more about Greene… Greene is one of UI’s newer schools to join the UI Work to Play program, having joined in 2012 (fun fact: UI started in 2003 with just one school, today they serve 42 schools).

  • 92% of students from Greene come from low-income households. Kids can play on a UI leagues regardless of skill-level and without any cost to their family. Without UI many may not have the opportunity to participate in organized sports.
  • 90% of the school population is Hispanic. At Greene, teachers thrive on a strong team identity to support a successful learning environment in their bilingual classrooms.
  • The Greene team’s favorite part of practice is the Compliment Circle, when they all sit down and say something nice about another member of the team.

This is clearly an abridged version of what I’m doing because there’s so much more behind the “why”. Before I joined Team UI I always wondered what running a marathon had to do with supporting a cause. I didn’t understand how months of brutal physical training for one person could save the whales or cure cancer. I honestly didn’t reach a conclusion until I was on a particularly long run this past weekend and had a lot of time to think on it. Most obviously, running a marathon is a great way to create buzz around your cause because most people think you’re crazy (and maybe you are). But, this particular kind of craziness translates to dedication. You’re basically saying to the world: “Hey! I care enough about this thing to run a billion miles for it, you should care about it too!” And it seems to get the message across. Specific to UI, though, I have the special privilege to serve as a role model to the kiddos at Greene. This is what really motivates me to get up and hit the pavement. Running a marathon demonstrates to the kids the importance of commitment and of maintaining a healthy lifestyle (though these are still lessons I’m learning myself… could cut back on the ‘za a little more). Secretly, I think everyone hopes to be a role model at some point, to make a positive impact on at least one person’s life, to leave a mark. This is mine. So, there it is. Now you can be a part of the fun by donating funds! Please and thank you.

Arty, out.