Over 50,000 runners and walkers alike crossed the finish line during the historic NYC Marathon on Sunday, November 5th. Each marathon participant is heroic in their own way, but seven specific individuals stood out to us – our Team enCourage Kids runners! Each of our runners came to enCourage Kids with a different reason for running the iconic race, but all of them left feeling the same — inspired by our kids and families, and by their own commitment and dedication.

Veteran runner and Team enCourage Kids member Jenn Valentine is also one of the dedicated members of our Young Professionals Committee and a long term enCourage Kids volunteer. This year was Jenn’s third time running on Team enCourage Kids and her seventh time running the TCS New York City Marathon.


When asked what helped push her through the miles, Jenn said, “I have always had a great support system with my husband, family, and friends, but running for enCourage Kids has given a new meaning to my miles! Being able to fundraise and support such a great cause helps push me through when it gets tough out there.” And with 26.2 miles to conquer, it definitely gets tough from time to time – but we are so lucky to have Jenn power through each mile for our kids and families.

Not everyone has had a life-long passion for running like Jenn. For team member Andreea Boitor it has been a long journey to get the NYC Marathon. Andreea has been a part of the enCourage Kids family for quite some time, working as a Senior Account Executive at the creative agency Geometry Global – the brains behind many of our creative marketing campaigns, but has never been “a runner” – until now!

When she first moved to NYC four years ago, Andreea used to hate running. She came across the NYC Marathon one day while out in the city and was instantly inspired. “I was mesmerized by the energy and the adrenaline that accompanied the event, and I decided that one day I wanted to run this race,” she explained. Andreea shared that she has now grown a love for running, and that running the NYC Marathon on behalf of enCourage Kids meant a great deal to her.

“I ran on behalf of Danielle, Christina, Tyriee, and every single child out there that is dealing with a health issue. I ran so that hopefully they will have at least one extra smile on their faces!”

We love having Andreea on Team enCourage Kids for her drive and passion to spread smiles.

Another enCourage Kids smile spreader is team member Bernie Cano. Bernie ran this first marathon last year on Team enCourage Kids and has since found a new passion – the 2017 NYC Marathon was Bernie’s fourth full marathon in a year!


“It’s such an amazing experience and an honor running on behalf of the children,” Bernie shared. “26.2 miles is rough but when you think of how strong these children are it helps to get you through. I’m so proud to be a part of this charity. I’ll be running for enCourage Kids for as long as I can.”

Bernie is not only a member of Team enCourage Kids, but also a dedicated volunteer. He has joined us at our annual Camp Weekend, volunteered at different fundraising and Escape events throughout the year, and was even Santa’s “special helper” at last year’s annual NYC Holiday Party. Bernie comes to each event with the same excitement and passion that he brings to the marathon. We are so lucky to have Bernie on our team!

We are so proud of our dedicated runners. 26.2 miles is no easy feat, and we are honored that these incredible individuals decided to make the most of their miles. Because of their passion and dedication they raised over $19,000 for our programs – helping us spread smiles to children who need it the most. Thank you Team enCourage Kids for helping us change lives, one smile at a time!

Interested in running the 2018 TCS NYC Marathon? Running an upcoming race and want to make your miles matter?
For more information on how to join Team enCourage Kids contact Emma – emma@encourage-kids.org