Move. Learn. Become. This motto for RunningBrooke can also be applied to its founder, Brooke Sydnor Curran. Brooke’s evolution from a marathon runner to a fundraising powerhouse is near-legend in Alexandria’s philanthropic sector. Brooke found herself unfulfilled by marathon running in 2009 when she realized that low-income kids and families lived within a few miles from her home. Brooke had an epiphany – commit to running a marathon a month, secure sponsors and donate all proceeds to ensuring all of Alexandria’s children are healthy, active and ready to succeed in school and life.
(Brooke Curran at the renovated Hume Springs Park playground)
Fast forward seven years, and RunningBrooke is one of the most successful fundraising organizations in Alexandria. Brooke has completed marathons in each of the 50 states at least once, on all seven continents (winning the women’s race in Antarctica) and in all five world majors. As of November of 2015 she has completed two IRONMAN competitions as well.
Brooke’s fundraising is even more impressive than her marathon record. She and her team of volunteers and corporate partners have raised and donated $447,351 as of February, 2016. Now, with physical fitness being such a cornerstone to Brooke’s success, she wants all Alexandria kids to be fit and prepared before they start school, and she is incorporating a greater emphasis on fitness into her grant-making.
“Kids that move more are better learners. That’s what’s important and that’s what our goal is,” Brooke said in a recent interview. “We believe in all kids going to school healthy and prepared to learn. We want kids to be moving.” Movement, especially for kids under five years old, allow their brains to grow, she said. Other benefits of movement in young kids include increased socialization skills and engagement, better school performance and higher graduation rates.
And Brooke isn’t stopping with encouraging young kids to move. Ultimately she would like to see more movement built into the school day, and for everyone to be outside and moving.
-By Jane Hess Collins