***This guest post is written by one of our former student participants, Alisa “Lele” Footes.
My name is Alisa Footes. But mostly every person in and out of Students Run knows me at Lele. I have been a part of SRPS for 10 years now. One might ask, what makes this program so amazing for a person to stick with it for so long? Well I am going to give you a small synopsis of what SRPS has done for me.
I joined SRPS when I was twelve years old. Now you can ask anyone who was there when I joined: I was a shy, quiet, anti-social middle schooler that couldn’t run the perimeter of a recreation center football field.
To be honest I hated running. I never wanted to go to practice because, to me, running a marathon was not going to happen. And that year I was right. But there was something about the program that made me come back. After that first year, I signed up again and revisited to the idea of running a marathon (and completed 3).
From my second year participating on, I changed. First off, I made FRIENDS! I became a social butterfly. People started yelling out “Hey Lele!” And I had friends in all age groups, from students all the way to Students Run Advisory Board members.
Which leads me to my second reason for sticking around: the mentorship participants receive from the staff and volunteer coaches. I became connected to a network of people from so many different fields. Leaders went out of their way to make sure I succeeded – I still see that today. When I was struggling with deciding on my next step after college, coaches and staff members were reaching out to me (all the way in Ohio) to schedule lunch and frozen yogurt dates just to give me to some advice. And when I finally did make a decision Students Run-affiliated people helped even more and connected me to their networks.
The relationships you develop within SRPS stick with you for the rest of your life. I met one of my best friends through the program. These people didn’t just teach me how to run. They taught me how to be an overall better person, which is reason number three. I learned so many wonderful life skills. But the most important one that I continue to rely on today is goal setting. I learned through running and mentorship that I can achieve any goal that I put my mind to.
And because of these three reasons, I can say I am a 22 year old, first-generation college graduate, and last but not least a Students Run Philly Style Alum.