Martinez pays it forward

Olympian Brenda Martinez knows that every child who dreams of one day running a race on behalf of Team USA needs to have two things: determination and a good pair of running shoes. That’s why she’s donating new sneakers to aspiring runners.

According to the Huffington Post, the 28-year-old runner shared the story of her youth that inspired this program on Instagram, writing:

“I remember when I was young and my parents couldn’t afford to buy me a new pair of running shoes … The shoes I wore to school were the same shoes I wore to practice. My father would always try to find running shoes on the clearance rack.”

But after pursuing track and field at age 5, running for UC Riverside and being turned down by two major training groups, the Huffington Post says Martinez finally got her break when she picked up a sponsorship from New Balance and was “was introduced to Joe Vigil, a legendary coach who believed in Martinez’s talent and offered to coach her. With Vigil’s support, Martinez won the bronze medal for the 800m at the World Championships in 2013, according to Competitor.com.”

Three years later, and Martinez will be taking to the track in Rio for the 1500m race, says the Huffington Post. But beyond her forthcoming stint on Team USA, the Huffington Post reports that “for the past four years, Martinez has hosted an annual summer camp for 10 to 12 female high school runners, she described to FloTrack.”

The camp, which includes “daily runs and clinics about confidence, healthy living and positive thinking,” is run by Martinez and her husband, Carlos Handler, who “cover all expenses, including meals, and even personally pick the girls up when they arrive in couple’s town of Big Bear Lake, California,” according to the Huffington Post.

While Martinez and Handler certainly take care of their campers, New Balance steps in to provide some other essentials, donating workout clothes and three pairs of shoes to each camper, says the Huffington Post.

Martinez summed up the goal of her camp best when she wrote in her Instagram post, “I’m donating back to the sport that gave me a fighting chance in the world.”

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