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A Let Me Run Family Builds Camaraderie, Community, and Speed in Ohio

December 15, 2023 by Let Me Run National

In the heart of Dublin, Ohio, Let Me Run has been transforming the lives of young boys, instilling values of confidence, camaraderie, and grit. Today, we bring you the inspiring story of Leo and Ben Canales, two brothers who embarked on their Let Me Run journey from elementary school to high school cross country, accompanied by their mother, Erin Canales, a Let Me Run coach.

Leo's Let Me Run journey began in 2018 at Scottish Corners Elementary School in Dublin, Ohio. Fast forward to today, Leo is a high school cross country runner, thankful for the invaluable lessons he learned from Let Me Run.

"Mostly Let Me Run affected my attitude towards running. It changed my attitude from 'running is too hard' to 'running is hard, but I'm going to do it anyway’" Leo shares.

The program not only influenced his endurance but also introduced him to lasting friendships in the community. “I met some of the people I still run with at Let Me Run and it introduced me to running as a sport. Without Let Me Run I don't know if I would have ever started running. It's a great way to spend some time with friends, it relieves stress and it's a great sport because what you get out of it is directly proportional to what you put in.”

Leo vividly remembers the compliment cards, as a small yet impactful activity. "I remember finishing a hard run and then having a teammate tell me I did a good job and being able to tell them that they did a good job too. It was a really big confidence boost for me at the time." he recalls. Compliment cards are just one of the many ways the Let Me Run curriculum helps boys grow inside and out.

Ben Canales joined Let Me Run in 2019 at Scottish Corners Elementary School. His Let Me Run experience gave him the confidence and experience needed to seamlessly transition into middle school and high school cross country.

"One of the more memorable activities for me was the timed 1/3-mile loops. It gave everyone the opportunity to run at their own pace without having to keep up with other people. People who were faster or slower could all get a good workout and feel included. " Ben reflects. This inclusive approach is designed so that individuals of different abilities can participate and feel a sense of accomplishment.

“I also remember setting goals for the 5k race at the end of the season. I learned to set a reasonable goal that was achievable and challenging. It gave me something to work towards, and this motivates me to run faster.” a lesson Ben still carries with him today.

When asked how his experience as a Let Me Run boy influenced or impacted his life Ben shared “It has got me into running, which has been my main sport ever since.  I find that running is a good sport for anyone because you are competing against yourself to improve, which anyone can do.”

Ben's advice for boys contemplating joining a Let Me Run team is encouraging. "If you like hanging out with friends, this is a great sport for you. You will meet lots of people that you will form a close bond with from working together."

Erin Canales, mother of Leo and Ben, took on the role of a Let Me Run coach at Scottish Corners Elementary School in 2019 and 2020.  “I really liked being able to give the kids the space to discuss things they don't always get to talk about, like what it means to be a good friend. It got some conversations going that my boys and I were able to revisit on the ride home. I also really loved the camaraderie in the group, everyone was genuinely excited when anyone reached their goals. They were all doing something hard, and they were doing it together. It's been super fun to cheer on many of the same kids as they continue on in high school cross country with the same positive attitude.” Erin shares. 

Erin's advice for parents trying to decide if their son should join a Let Me Run team is sincere: "I think my boys really learned to challenge themselves, the grit needed to reach goals, and the joy of accomplishment. No matter what my boys end up doing in life, they know they can do hard things."  Erin encourages others to consider coaching, emphasizing that one doesn't need to be a runner to inspire these young boys to do their best.

For those thinking about joining a Let Me Run team, Leo and Ben’s advice is simple: "Try it. It's not going to be easy at first, but stick with it, and it gets better.” “If you like hanging out with friends, this is a great sport for you. You will meet lots of people that you will form a close bond with from working together.  It also is a great way for you to push yourself. Let Me Run is all about improving yourself physically and emotionally, and this is a great chance to see how much better you can get.”

The Canales family's experience with Let Me Run exemplifies the program's positive impact. From shaping attitudes towards running to fostering lasting friendships, Let Me Run continues to be a catalyst for personal growth and camaraderie. As Ben wisely advises, "If you want running to be in your future, the earlier you start, the better!"



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