Students Run L.A. Celebrates 20 Years Of Helping At-Risk Kids Cross The Finish Line

Source: PRNewswire

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 2  — The non-profit organization Students Run
Los Angeles (SRLA), an after-school program that each year prepares an average
of 3,000 at-risk secondary school students to complete the Los Angeles
Marathon, will commemorate 20 years of community service at a California-style
beach party to be held on Sept. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Gladstone’s of Malibu
restaurant in Pacific Palisades. The celebration will mark the organization’s
legacy of helping students develop discipline, discover positive health habits
and grow self-esteem through completing a rigorous 10-month physical fitness
program.

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“SRLA’s history is grounded in challenging young people to stay in school and
experience the benefits of goal setting, character development and improved
health through a truly life changing experience,” said SRLA Executive Director
Michelle Fleenor. “Our program also fosters a unique mentoring relationship
between the students and the volunteer adult leaders with whom they train.”

SRLA was founded in 1986 when a continuation high school teacher in East Los
Angeles invited his students to transform their lives by training with him for
the Los Angeles Marathon. Since then, the organization has provided
inspiration and opportunity to more than 39,000 students who have successfully
trained for the marathon under the guidance of some 450 volunteer teachers and
adult leaders. SRLA will take place at 179 schools and community programs
across Southern California this year, stretching from the San Fernando Valley
to the Port of Los Angeles and beyond.

After securing medical physical clearance, participating students receive the
equipment and resources needed to achieve success, including running shoes,
uniforms, race entry fees, transportation and nutrition. On average, more than
95 percent of SRLA students complete the full 26.2 mile course. In addition,
95 percent of high school seniors in the program graduate and plan to attend
college.

SRLA also grants annual $500 scholarships to eligible graduating seniors for
post-secondary education. The grants have helped hundreds of students attend a
wide range of public and private colleges and universities by providing
critically needed funds for books, tuition and other expenses. Students must
participate with SRLA and complete the marathon in their senior year of high
school to apply.

“During this time of economic uncertainty and unprecedented budget cuts
impacting education and after-school programs, now is more important than ever
to provide students an alternative to gang violence, inactivity and dropping
out of school, ” said SRLA Board President Nathan Crair. “Unfortunately, many
students live in neighborhoods where it is unsafe for them to walk or play
unsupervised, and after-school programs are not available. SRLA serves as an
alternative to these problems by providing students the opportunity to connect
with their teachers, peers and schools.”

Community icon and NBC4 news anchor Chris Schauble will emcee the evening’s
festivities during which SRLA’s founding members will be recognized for their
vision and leadership. Honorees include Harry Shabazian, the teacher who first
challenged students to train for the Los Angeles Marathon in 1986; San
Fernando Valley continuation high school teachers Paul Trapani and Eric Spears
(now a high school principal), who created a formal marathon training program
for students; and former Los Angeles Unified School District Board President
Roberta Weintraub and founding SRLA Executive Director Marsha Charney who in
1989 established SRLA in Los Angeles public schools.

American Honda Motor Co., Inc. also will be honored for its generous support
and partnership with SRLA over the past 13 years. In addition to serving as
presenting sponsor of the Los Angeles Marathon since 1996, the company has
supported scholarships, provided funds to purchase more than 20,000 pairs of
running shoes and hosted career days for SRLA students.

“We are extremely proud of our long-standing partnership with SRLA to provide
healthy alternatives and opportunities for achievement to thousands of
students each year, most who come from low-income families,” said American
Honda Motor Co., Inc. Assistant Vice President and SRLA Board Member Stephan
Morikawa. “While running is the core activity of the program, SRLA extends
far beyond supporting physical fitness. The experience promotes
self-discovery, fosters academic growth and paves a pathway for students to
achieve life success.”

Major event sponsors include, Merrill Lynch, Evercore Trust Company and
Paramount Pictures. For more information on how to purchase tickets or support
SRLA, contact Virginia Gibbs, SRLA development director, at (818) 654-1620 or
visit www.srla.org.

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