It’s good to race, and just as important to cheer. What also brings joy to my life is spending time with the #YoungLegendz. Why? I am glad you asked :)
A story I will never forget is that of a young boy, who lost his father at the age of four due to complications with AIDS. That boy knew all too well the ever present void. That boy was me, and I see similar narratives play out in this world. So I share my experience and take on the responsibility of being a positive role model in the lives of many young men I come in contact with. Which is why when The Eagle Academy Foundation invited us to their Health & Wellness Day on June 11, our response was an immediate yes.
I arrived early-- I always remind my personal mentees, “Early is on time, and on time is late" --to their flagship, $50 million school located on Third Avenue in the Bronx. Eagle Academy for Young Men was opened in 2004 by the will of some committed educators, parents, community leaders, and corporate partners, spearheaded by the One Hundred Black Men, Inc. After the Foundation’s formation in 2005 they have since built schools in all the five boroughs of NYC, with another school in Newark. They are committed to providing quality education to our inner city young men.
I surveyed the area we were to use, because safety is always first. When the young men were finally ready, our portion was to be the first. Good to know we would set the tone for the remainder of the day. We went through a good warm up, and afterwards I shared with them the code that we live by: Run 2x2, No headphones, and respecting the community.
It wasn’t a typical #MonNgtRun but more in the style of what can go down on a Thursday night for #HarlemGetsFit. We ran up stairs, circled a baseball field, pumped out some squats in between, ran back down the stairs, hit some a series of calisthenics and repeated to fill 45 minutes of effort. I pushed them. Some pushed through, while others slowed down or even stopped. I reminded them the course and to keep pushing each other. I was right there with them; shoulder to shoulder.
When our time was complete we cooled down, stretched and had a short discussion. We might see some new #YoungLegendz on a Monday or Thursday night, and they won’t be alone. If it is the parent bringing their child, it’s often the child bringing the parent. They might first watch, but they will always want to take part, because if they’re not running they are walking. Which is what some of the young men chose to do when it proved to be much harder than they anticipated. Great effort, but an even greater day to spend time these amazing young scholars.
It was an honor and a privilege to not only represent Harlem Run, but to share with these young men the many ways of living the life they wanted to live through first choosing a healthy lifestyle. I look forward to this being the first of many future collaborations to come.