UT Athletics supports Marathon Kids
Oct. 3, 2011
John Byczek, Texas Media Relations
This past weekend, University of Texas coaches and student-athletes gathered at Mike A. Myers stadium, but they were not the athletes receiving cheers. Twenty-thousand Austin-area children, parents and teachers began a six-month journey to promote a healthy and fit lifestyle at the 15th annual Marathon Kids kickoff celebration.
The community-based fitness program welcomed kindergarten through fifth-grade students to walk or run the program's ceremonial first lap with UT student-athletes lining the track to cheer and encourage them.
Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Women's Track and Field head coach Beverly Kearney welcomed the crowd before the kids hit the track.
"This is an event that Austinites are proud of. I know I sure am," Mayor Leffingwell said. "They're on a great mission to improve the health of the kids and of the city."
The Marathon Kids program encourages these kids to run or walk 26.2 miles in increments of a quarter-mile or half-mile over a six month period, while also committing to eating five servings of fruit or vegetables 26.2 days a month.
Marathon Kids has continued to grow every year, motivating more kids to be active and promoting a healthy future.
"I am definitely Marathon Kids' biggest fan because it's a program that engages everybody in it -- parents, teachers, community, athletics, sport, fitness, health, and all of the different sponsors," Kearney said. "It's one of those programs that doesn't cost a lot but does a lot. "
Student-athletes from the men's and women's track and field, men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's tennis, women's basketball and baseball teams lined the track to cheer on each runner.
"It's so much fun to help out the little kids and just give back. This is where I started off running as a little kid. It's important for us to encourage the sport and health and knowing the importance of staying healthy and living good lives," junior sprinter Chalonda Goodman said.
Goodman wasn't the only one with roots here though.
"It's something I've been apart of since I was a little kid. I did this when I was in elementary school," said cross country runner Rory Tunningley. "I think it's something awesome for kids to be doing -- getting out and getting exercise."
It was also a humbling event for Texas athletes, Kearney said.
"Sometimes we forget that we're in the privileged few, the few that have the opportunity to go to college, the few that are fit. It gives the athletes a chance to give back and appreciate where they are and also to help someone else to get where they are, and that's always important," Kearney said.