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Running with Purpose: Chicago Run and Giving Back

Giving Tuesday is a worldwide movement promoting generosity through philanthropy, observed annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Organizations and individuals contribute to various causes, showcasing their missions and enhancing their brand image. It's a reminder for people to give back, emphasizing any form of kindness they can offer. Just like in running, where every step, no matter how small, contributes to the overall journey.

The Chicago Running Community is no stranger to philanthropy – in fact, every year, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon is the largest day of giving in Chicago. This past October, Fleet Feet Racing Team member Alejandro Vargas ran the marathon while fundraising for Chicago Run, an organization that empowers young people from Pre-K through high school with equitable access to inclusive running and physical activity programs. 

When did you first get involved with Chicago Run?

Alejandro: I started running with Chicago Run when I was in 2nd grade. Chicago Run had just started and my school was picked as one of the flagship programs. We trained a few times a week for 5ks. I ran and raced with Chicago Run until I graduated 8th grade. After this, I continued running into high school and spent a few summers working as a Junior coach for their Chicago Run's Summer Programs. After graduating, I had the opportunity to run Division 1 track and ran at Arkansas State for 5 years. This past year I started my post collegiate running with Fleet Feet Racing team, training for my first marathon.

What drew you to this charity, specifically?

Alejandro: Having started my running journey with Chicago Run, it was the first charity program I thought of running for. Knowing the impact the program had on my life, I knew that they would have the same impact on the schools they worked in. Chicago Run has a positive influence on all the communities and schools they work in. They also help build a healthy lifestyle in communities that can have a life-long impact. Having participated in the program myself, I knew that they could have a big impact on someone's life. This was the main reason I chose Chicago Run.

What does it mean to you to wear the Chicago Run singlet and use your running journey to support their cause?

Alejandro: Chicago Run has played a big part in my running journey, so I felt appropriate that my first marathon was with them. My running journey started with Chicago Run, so it felt like a full-circle moment finishing my first marathon wearing their singlet. Along with this, I was able to represent and support kids who were in the same shoes as me at one point. Knowing that I was running for a cause was something that helped keep me motivated during my training, especially my long runs. 

How do you support Chicago Run and its mission outside of running?

Alejandro: Being an Alumni of the program, I'm able to represent Chicago Run in my everyday life. By following everything I have learned from the program and running, I am able to represent the program in a positive way. Running is a key part of my life, so I feel like I am able to represent Chicago Run all the time.
For a list of all charities Fleet Feet Chicago partners with, visit here.

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