2012 Columbus Marathon for the Robinson Community Learning Center
Running BIG Distances to make a BIG Difference
Paula Beckman donated $20
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Colin Sullivan became a supporter
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Manali Patel donated $80
Manali Patel became a supporter
Paula Beckman became a supporter
Brian Dentino donated $50
Brian Dentino became a supporter
Alexandra Marie donated $50
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Andrew Doellman became a supporter
Alexandra Marie became a supporter
Andy Kostielney donated $25
Andy Kostielney became a supporter
Lionel Pittman donated $20
Lionel Pittman became a supporter
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My body is currently experiencing a bit of amnesia and can’t seem to recall the amount of pain it endured while I completed my first marathon last year in Cincinnati. I’m taking this opportunity to squeeze in my second marathon race on October 21st in Columbus, OH. This time I’ll be running for a very special group of people – The Robinson Community Learning Center (RCLC).
I worked and grew at the RCLC for four years while I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame. While the RCLC serves all ages of the South Bend community, I was specifically involved with the after school youth programs, which focus on personal development in the following areas: tutoring and study habits; career exploration & field trips; health and fitness; college preparation; and positive conflict resolution. All of that is a very formal way of saying that the RCLC is working to make a big difference in the lives of its neighborhood kids by teaching them the tools they need to succeed.
Technically, my job was to help supervise the after school tutoring; contact and schedule professional leaders in the community to speak to our teenagers during our “Be InSpired” program; develop lesson plans for the “My America” series; guide students through the college application process; and much more.
To the kids, though, I was the snack lady.
It was my job to have snack ready at 3pm every day. This was my most challenging task. It took a long time for me to master the appropriate Robinson Community Learning Center serving size. I had to learn to stifle generosity when spooning salsa onto plates and to say “No” when really cute, small children and hungry, hormonal teenagers asked me for seconds. During this time, I also learned that while food may grow on trees, the money that buys it for us does not. When Ms. Velshonna, my supervisor and South Bend Mama, would catch me smuggling a second fruit snack into a small, marker colored hand, I was informed that a loving donation to the Robinson Community Learning Center would be graciously welcomed when I made it big.
I haven’t made it big, but I can run big distances. The money that I raise through running this marathon will go directly to the after school youth programs at the RCLC. These additional funds will assist the RCLC in achieving its goal: to help the children we serve to “change their family tree.” I believe that the work the RCLC is doing is directly helping children to do exactly this. We are educating first generation college students and helping children to come to know the word ‘can’.
The money we’ve raised in the past has been used to help fund programs such as “Be InSpired” and “My America”. For example, during the time that I was at the RCLC, we were able to raise enough money to take the teenagers to Indianapolis where they were able to visit multiple museums, the state capital and also a college campus. In addition, we also began the “My America” program, which is a weekly lesson and discussion that aims to cultivate empowerment and show the children what the American story means for them and their future. In the “My America” lesson plans, which I was responsible for developing, we discussed the Declaration of Independence, the Statue of Liberty, Martin Luther King Jr. and other similar topics. When our discussion began in the spring of 2011, I told them that one day we might be able to actually visit the Statue of Liberty. After our Holiday Gift Auction, we raised enough money to take some of the children to the east coast, as promised, where we took the ferry to Liberty and Ellis Island. I was fortunate enough to chaperone this trip, which took place one year after our Statue of Liberty discussions began. I can’t put into words the honor I felt in being able to tell these kids – my kids – that something was possible and be there when it was made reality for them.
I was blessed with the opportunity to attend and graduate from the University of Notre Dame. It was even more of an honor to be welcomed into the Notre Dame family. But not many of my classmates were as lucky as me to graduate from the Robinson Center as well. For as much as I can say I did for the RCLC, they did even more for me. It wasn’t just a building to which kids came to kill time after school until their parents got off work. It was a second home and an extended family for everyone. There I met third graders who noticed if I wasn’t smiling as much on some days, and I got to know teenagers who would hug me when they saw me at the grocery store on the weekend.
It is my wish for all of my kids at the center and for every child who walks through the RCLC doors after them to graduate from a school that is to them what Notre Dame was for me. It is an even greater wish of mine that while they are at that school, that they find a place and a community in which they can learn to work and grow, like I did at the Robinson Community Learning Center.
I start my first year of law school on Monday, August 20th at Ohio State. In the Robinson Center spirit, I am living my dream. In so many ways the RCLC helped me to get here. I witnessed so many dreams made reality at the center during my time there. I came to believe in so many people, and they came to believe in me. By the time race day rolls around, I will be in the crux of my first semester. I’m planning to sneak in this 26.2-mile run somewhere between my Torts and Civil Procedure homework for that weekend. Running this marathon and training during school is going to be tough. But it won’t compare to how tough the hours of 2-6pm are going to be for me when I come to and find myself lost in a legal library and not with a swarm of children in the big room at the RCLC.<!--EndFragment-->
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