As someone who grew up in Austin, went to college here, and taught PE in Austin ISD schools for 14 years before transitioning to her current position as Health and Physical Education Supervisor for the district, Michele Rusnak knows this town. And she knows physical education. Marathon Kids has grown over the past 25 years from a small, locally-based nonprofit to one with a national reach, with programming in schools across the country. Rusnak credits part of the nonprofit’s success and sustainability to the soul and essence of Austin itself. She believes it’s also about the message that PE teachers can deliver to students. “This is part of our curriculum. Running, staying in shape, fitness, cardiovascular endurance. When we can do that, and have something really fun and rewarding to provide for the kids, and for the families to see the excitement in the kids and the finishing miles and some of the other events we’ve hosted over the years—it’s been a no-brainer.”
Looking forward to the next 25 years, Rusnak hopes the sustainability of the program continues. “With the new digital platform,” she says—referring to the new physical activity tracking app and digital reporting platform, Marathon Kids Connect, “it’s going to be so much easier for the teachers, and for the classroom teachers and the parents as well. Everybody gets to see the results. It used to be just the PE teachers that got to see the results; now more people get to see it, including the principal, so I think that piece and the sustainability will make the organization that much stronger.”
In 25 years, Marathon Kids has transformed the lives of more than two and a half million kids. Our main goal is inclusivity. We partner with Title 1 and disadvantaged schools and communities first. We wish for all kids, no matter their difference, to feel included, welcomed, and have access to fun, supportive, and educational physical activities.