Natasha Preece is one determined 12-year-old. When she saw kids running around at a local Kids in the Game event, she was inspired to find a way to encourage kids to stay active, but she wasn't sure how to do it. Her mom said, "Why don't you put together a race?" and Natasha went to work.
"I thought it would be just something she would do with her friends, but she said, 'No, I want to do the real thing. I want medals. I want a finish line,'" says Natasha's mom, Karla Vejar-Preece.
Natasha spent a year putting together the 2015 Children for Children 5K, which took place on April 25 in Mission Trails Regional Park in San Diego, Calif. She organized all the event registration, promoted it on social media and spoke to local track and cross country clubs about participating. Her parents helped out by providing the legal and financial support, but Natasha was the race director.
Nearly 80 people showed up at 8 a.m. on race day. There were also 15 to 20 more virtual runners – participants who live too far away, but paid online and had someone run in their place.
About half of the runners were children. Natasha says the youngest participant was a baby strapped to her dad with her own personal race number, but racers as young as 6 were running the course on their own.
The nearly flat course was easy enough for all ages, but Natasha says she chose it because it has some of her favorite views in the city.
After runners completed the 3.1-mile race, medals for placing and participation were given out to winners. Natasha says seeing her race come to life made her feel happy, and she encourages other kids to stay active by finding something they love.
"I felt happy because I knew I could help kids to live a healthy lifestyle," she says. "I really like running, so I put on a running event ? I was helping others and doing what I love at the same time."
Natasha plans to make the 5k for kids a yearly event. Natasha's mom, a triathlete, says she and her husband, an ultra runner, couldn't have been more proud of Natasha. She says getting your kids involved in any activity is hard at first, but it gets easier once they find something they love to do, especially when it's rewarding for them.
"She shined," she says. "You couldn't ask for more in life than to see your child succeed."