As of June 1, the year-round charity organization of Grandma’s Marathon — the Young Athletes Foundation (YAF) — has surpassed one million dollars in contributions to area nonprofit organizations that are focused on youth fitness.
The main focus of the organization is to promote the growth of young athletes in the region. Through this arm of Grandma’s Marathon, the foundation helps community members and businesses that inspire kids to be healthy and provide access to athletic opportunities for those who may not be able to participate otherwise. The Young Athletes Foundation does this in a few different ways.
The first community initiative of the YAF is the Grant Program. It started in 1990 with the goal of providing money to nonprofit organizations in Lake, Cook, Carlton, Douglas, and St. Louis Counties that strive to provide children with opportunities to participate in recreational activities. In addition, the Young Athletes Foundation awards a $1,200 scholarship annually to one male and one female UMD cross-country runner with roots in the YAF geographic boundaries. Altogether, the YAF has granted over $700,000 to area youth organizations.
The YAF also provides support through its Running Shoe Program. This program was developed to provide free running shoe certificates to high school cross-country and track athletes who wouldn’t necessarily be able to purchase the latest shoe technologies otherwise. Since 1991, the YAF has donated over 3,500 pairs of running shoes to area athletes, totaling over a quarter million dollars.
The Young Athletes Foundation holds many events throughout the year. Most recently, the Essentia Health Fit-n-Fun Run was held on May 16th for third, fourth, and fifth graders attending Duluth Public Schools. As a part of Grandma’s Marathon Weekend, the Young Athletes Foundation sponsors the Whipper Snapper Races for Kids. These races are free and open to everyone, presented by Minnesota Power. Children run short dashes and all participants receive a ribbon at the completion of their race.
The Wednesday Night at the Races and Saturday Morning at the Races are held throughout the summer and winter to help local children, ages 14 and under, to stay active. These races are free and open to the public. Children run distances according to their age group and receive a ribbon (Wednesday Night at the Races) or a commemorative T-shirt (Saturday Morning at the Races) upon completion of their race.
The 2018 Wednesday Night at the Races schedule is as follows:
July 25: James S. Malosky Stadium, UMD
August 1: Public Schools Stadium, Denfeld H.S.
August 8: High School Track, Proctor H.S.
August 15: NBC Spartan Sports Complex, Superior H.S.
August 22: Corey Veech Memorial Field, Hermantown H.S.
August 29: Wade Stadium (YEAR-END RUN & PICNIC)
Keeping kids active and giving them a place to start their fitness journey is an important mission today. The YAF believes that if they can help kids become eager to start being active, then they will play a role in launching them toward a lifetime of achieving their goals and living a positive, healthy lifestyle.