Coke Awards $50K Grant For Youth Running

Photo: Running USA

Grant funds to be used to expand JUST RUN in underserved areas within California.

From: Running USA

CARMEL, Calif. – JUST RUN®, the nationally acclaimed youth fitness program under the auspices of the Big Sur International Marathon organization, has received a $50,000 grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation. The contribution is part of the Foundation’s support of fitness and healthy living programs in local communities throughout the United States.

JUST RUN is a free, website-based program available to schools, teachers and youth leaders in any locale. In the most recently completed school year, 2011-12, JUST RUN reached 9,221 students in 89 schools throughout 12 states. The focus of the grant is to increase the number of both students and schools throughout California.

“We’re honored to have been chosen for this significant grant,” said Mike Dove, Big Sur Marathon board member and developer of the JUST RUN program. “With this funding we’ll be able to implement a greater outreach effort in currently underserved areas of the state.”

The JUST RUN grant was one of 19 second-quarter grants issued by The Coca-Cola Foundation. The philanthropic arm of the Coca-Cola Company awarded a total of $1.6 million in support of active healthy lifestyles, and another $1.25 million to the USO’s Operation Enduring Care program focused on three crucial areas including physical health and recreation.

“One of our Foundation’s priorities is to build sustainable communities by encouraging individuals, families and communities to live active, healthy lifestyles,” said Lori George Billingsley, Vice President, Community Relations, Coca-Cola Refreshments.

Coca-Cola Distribution Center Manager for Salinas and San Jose, Tim Albrecht, added, “Just Run is a premier, invaluable local organization serving schools and students nationwide, providing access to exercise, physical activity, and nutritional education. We’re proud to be able to support them through this grant.”

Goals for the JUST RUN program through the Coca-Cola grant will be to increase the student participation to more than 11,000 in 120 schools throughout California. In addition to teaching running as a part of living an active healthy lifestyle, JUST RUN focuses on healthy nutrition and good citizenship, or “Just Deeds.” Other components of the program include tangible incentives for mileage run, establishment of goal races, and a “Run Across the USA” component which tracks mileage and offers teachers an opportunity to enhance teaching through geography and history of various areas that the students ‘virtually’ run through.

Since its inception in 2004, JUST RUN has received many awards and accolades. Nationally, JUST RUN was selected as a 2012 recipient of the Community Leadership Award by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition (PCFSN), is endorsed by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and is recognized as a significant youth fitness program in the national “Let’s Move” campaign initiated by First Lady Michelle Obama. During the first year of its existence, JUST RUN received a Gold Medal from the (California) Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and its leaders, Mike Dove and Susan Love, were named as Youth Fitness Contributors of the Year by Running USA, the industry’s trade organization. Locally, JUST RUN was recently honored by the Monterey County School Boards Association as the 2012 recipient of the ‘Excellence in Education’ award for exemplifying the very best of teaching and learning.

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