Though the mission of LEAP Foundation DC is to provide educational and training opportunities to meet the aspirations of the underserved citizens of the District of Columbia, the truth is, its reach is having an impact on a much bigger radius – across the country, to be exact.
Dr. Clayton Lawrence, president and CEO, has travelled the world not only fulfilling his own passion for endurance running, but allowing others to reap the rewards in the process.
“There are the obvious benefits for me, pertaining to health, but then there are amazing opportunities to extend the mission of my nonprofit organization to youth outside of the Washington, D.C., radius,” Dr. Lawrence said. “Along my journey, I have announced support for various charities, including the Paralyzed Veterans of America, American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Red Cross. And my running sets a great example for our mentees, demonstrating the importance of physical activity and the ability to overcome challenges.”
The endurance athlete recently took to the course of one of the nation’s largest race, the Los Angeles Marathon, on March 24, 2019, where he joined more than 24,000 athletes trekking from Dodger Stadium to the finish line in Santa Monica, including thousands of athletes who were part of this year’s Students Run LA program.
With a mission to “challenge at-risk secondary students to experience the benefits of goal-setting, character development, adult mentoring and improved health by providing them with a truly life-changing experience: The training for and completion of the Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon.”
For many, training for a marathon is the first time to commit to a specific goal, which, according to Dr. Lawrence will, no doubt, allow the students to form healthy thought processes and habits. Throughout its 30-year history, the organization reports that more than 66,000 students have become alumni of the program, which is led by teachers and past participants. It was estimated that more than 3,200 middle and high school students from 185 public schools and community programs would be training alongside mentees to complete the 26.2 miles
“For me, what resonates the most is that Students Run LA has reported some staggering statistics: 99 percent of participants will graduate high school, 95 percent will go on to college and 75 percent of those are first-generation college students,” he said. “This is incredible.”
Dr. Lawrence said it is a great experience to complete the activity right alongside the students, adding that he believes there is no better way to tell students that you want them to do something than to do it with them. In fact, he was able to meet up with one student with whom he ran in 2016, his first year to become involved with the organization.
“It is an honor to sponsor a student to participate in Students Run LA ,” Dr. Lawrence said. “This has been the perfect extension of our mission at LEAP Foundation DC, where we try to inspire students to increase their daily physical activity to lead a healthier lifestyle. The health impact of Students Run LA is incredible, with 2/3 of participants reporting spending more time exercising and 92 percent reporting continued healthy habits. This is clearly in line with what the Foundation wants to do in its promotion of health and fitness within the community.”