Children laughed as they ran, performed strength exercises, and recited life skills to their coaches during this special race in Richmond. After the race, eleven-year-old Na Riyah was excited to share the goal board she made about life skills she learned during a weekly program at STEP Richmond, a nonprofit that serves the Gilpin Court community by developing strategies to defeat poverty. Na Riyah had set some important goals: cleaning her room, maintaining good grades, and focusing on positive words. She explained that these goals were part of a larger aspiration to become an engineer one day.
Organized by Live Red Foundation, the race marked the conclusion of an eight-week program at a community center where children learned valuable life skills through a fitness program. Na Riyah – and more than 9,000 other children in Richmond’s lowest-opportunity neighborhoods – are working toward goals and developing confidence in themselves and their abilities with these programs and support from Live Red Foundation.
Founded in 2018, Live Red Foundation uses fitness to empower and equip children to create a successful future for themselves and their communities through free fitness programs at community centers and schools.
Michael Harlow is the founder and executive director of Live Red Foundation. After fifteen years coaching youth triathletes and runners through Endorphin Fitness (a business he operates in Henrico), Harlow wanted to help inspire all children, especially those living in under-served zip codes, to experience the benefits of fitness. “We use fitness to give children hope,” says Harlow. “Our programs walk alongside youth, challenging them physically while introducing skills that have been proven to make a difference in their lives.”
Families depend on Live Red Foundation and their partner venues to provide safe opportunities for children to experience active play. Many children who participate in these programs lack access to safe green space in their neighborhoods, and many of their schools have limited resources for physical education. While children have fun during the programs, Harlow says the organization’s curriculum helps youth develop important life skills such as setting goals, self-belief, empathy, mindfulness, self-control, positive risk-taking, resilience, and honesty.
To help fund its mission while spreading the appreciation of fitness more broadly, Live Red Foundation produces a variety of family-focused fitness events for the entire community. These events include races for adults and kids, as well as triathlons, duathlons, and other endurance events. Corporate sponsorship of Live Red Foundation events is an important source of funding for free community programs, like the one that impacted Na Riyah at STEP Richmond.
“Live Red events are a way for us to further our mission of empowering all children while raising the necessary funds for our programs,” says Harlow.
How to Support Live Red
Foundation, Kids, and Families!
West Creek Duathlon and 5k
Sunday, February 25
What a fantastic way to start the year as a family! Event includes adult/junior non-draft and draft-legal duathlons, a youth duathlon, and a 5k for all ages. All races are held on a simple multi-loop course that is closed to vehicular traffic. This is the perfect race for someone exploring multisport for the first time, as well as the experienced triathlete looking for a unique challenge.
To learn more about Live Red Foundation and sign up to donate, volunteer, or participate in an event, visit livered.org.