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Sandra, a 2018 SRLA graduate for Academia Avancia, grew up with Students Run LA. She has the opportunity to run six Marathons, and gained confidence and connection along the way. She credits SRLA changing her life and helping her realize she needed to fuel her body. She is headed to the University of California, Santa Barbara this fall.
Students Run Los Angeles isn’t a normal program to begin with. For starters, it is a program where you train to run a marathon– 26.2 miles on the streets of Los Angeles. For me, I always saw that as an amazing opportunity to have. Who can say they ran on the streets of Chinatown, Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica all in one day? Not many people. It’s a blessing to be able to do, to know that the streets are closed for you and that people are lined outside waiting to cheer you on.
I’ve never in my life ever had so many people cheer me on, but most of all I’ve never done something in my life where it’s so tiring but fun at the same time. Running in no way is ever fun to do, but over years I’ve learned to enjoy it and would actually look forward to do it after school. It became my passion and therapy.
Growing up I was bullied in elementary school. Being bullied changed me and how I felt about school. I would never would want to participate in school or join any clubs because I was afraid of being judged again. When I joined SRLA that all changed. SRLA gave me an opportunity to not be afraid to do what I want to do.
I was made fun of at first by people who told me I couldn’t possibly run a marathon, but once I did I gained all the confidence in the world. Once I crossed that finish line I actually cried knowing I proved everybody who doubted me wrong. I was given an opportunity to regain who I was and realize who I am… I am not a quitter, I believe in the impossible.
When life would get tough or too much to handle I would go for a run and rethink things. SRLA has given me the chance to change my lifestyle for the better. Before SRLA, I had a very unhealthy relationship with food. Due to being bullied, I was very insecure about my appearance and that would result in me seeing food as my enemy. I would blame it and would starve myself continuously hoping in my delusional eyes to look smaller. I spent days feeling like fainting and hating myself for even eating something as simple as a cookie.
When I joined the program, I was concerned about myself knowing that I barely managed to play soccer without passing out and running in P.E. was a mission. How could I run more than one mile without fainting? It wasn’t until after my third practice where I felt like I was really going to die. I was so scared, my head was pounding and spinning, my body felt so dead and weak. After that day I knew I needed to change and fast. I didn’t want to end up in the hospital and I really did want to run a marathon.
Slowly I did. It took a while but I was actually eating full meals at dinner time and getting in line at lunch to get lunch. I felt so much better and healthier than I had ever felt in previous years. By mid season I was healthier and I was so thankful to have SRLA to make me realize that. Years later I’m still as healthy as ever and I’m so glad that there is a program like SRLA. It really does change your life for the best. Thank you for giving me all these opportunities in my life. It has transformed me into a happier, healthier, girl with so many goals I wish to accomplish.
Sandra is a 2018 SRLA Scholarship recipient. To make a donation to support future Students Run LA students like Sandra as they work towards their goals, click here.