On a crisp autumn day, the scenic Walnut Hill Park was buzzing with an energy that could only be sparked by the laughter and chatter of 800 enthusiastic elementary students. The occasion? The Hartford Marathon Foundation (HMF) FitKids Final Mile event—a day that marked not only the conclusion of a remarkable journey for these young athletes but also a proud moment for us at 2-4-1.
A Day of Movement, Milestones, and Memories
Tuesday, October 24th, dawned with a perfect tableau of fall—blue skies and vibrant foliage creating an idyllic backdrop for an event that was to be the culmination of weeks of perseverance and passion. Children from over 50 schools across Central Connecticut gathered with a shared goal: to complete the last mile of their marathon journey.
Our team at 2-4-1, alongside other HMF and 2-4-1 partners Dicks Sporting Goods, and the Hartford Athletic as well as First Tee of CT was thrilled to be a part of this celebration. It was a day to encourage and cheer on the future generation, and what better way to do this than by setting up activity stations that offered a blend of fun and fitness?
The park’s bandshell was alive with music, adding to the ambiance of festivity and anticipation. Our own 2-4-1 Coaches—Jake Koteen, Nicole Davis, and Julie Goldstein—were right in the thick of it, guiding the young participants through soccer drills, rad ball, and fitness warm-ups.
The event turned into an unexpected reunion for us, spotting many 2-4-1 alums among the eager faces from Suffield, New Britain, and Hartford. It was heartwarming to see former participants, now running with their schools, reaching new heights and achieving their personal bests.
More Than Just a Race
The HMF FitKids In School running program goes beyond just preparing students for the Final Mile. This free five-week initiative encourages children in grades 4-8 across Connecticut to embrace running and fitness as part of their daily routine, promoting lifelong health and wellness.
The Hartford Marathon Foundation generously equips schools with the necessary training materials, allowing students to log their miles each day, gradually building up to a Half or Full Marathon distance. This approach not only fosters physical endurance but also instills the values of goal setting and dedication.
What’s more, HMF eliminates any financial barriers by providing the training materials, t-shirts, finisher medals, healthy snacks, fun-filled activities, and even bus transportation for Medal Day—all at no cost to the participating schools.
Reflections on a Job Well Done
As we watched the young runners cross the finish line, each face glowing with the triumph of their 26.2-mile accomplishment, we couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride. These students, with their medals gleaming against the fall colors, were the embodiment of determination and spirit.
Supporting the HMF FitKids Final Mile Event wasn’t just another day for us—it was a testament to the community we build through sports, the joy of play, and the power of coming together to celebrate each other’s successes.
Ironically, that same evening was the final 2-4-1 Hartbeart Run Club at Bushnell Park highlighting our commitment to great sport of running and the value we place on it for kids! Until the next race, we’ll hold onto the memories of this day—a reminder of why we do what we do at 2-4-1. Here’s to many more miles and milestones ahead!
Join us in cheering for these incredible young athletes and stay tuned for more stories of community and sportsmanship from 2-4-1.
About Julie Goldstein
As the Chief Program Officer at 2-4-1, Julie Goldstein is at the forefront of pioneering initiatives that fuse her profound experiences in educational settings with her passion for social-emotional learning (SEL), crafting unparalleled programs that resonate with children across the world. Julie's current role emphasizes the natural integration of physical literacy development with SEL, setting a precedent for how we empower the next generation to thrive both physically and emotionally. With an unwavering dedication to fostering the success and well-being of students, educators, and families alike, Julie leverages her tenure as a former principal of award-winning interdistrict magnet schools to bring equity and excellence into the fabric of education. Her role as a board member of Magnet Schools of America and her involvement as a fellow with Teach for All and Leadership for Educational Equity underscore her commitment to equitable educational opportunities. A systemic scholar-practitioner specializing in Social-Emotional and Academic Leadership, Julie's strategic approaches are not just theoretical but proven in practice, with a clear track record of effectiveness. Her strategy is to interlace the vision and mission at both the district and school levels with the principles of improvement science, creating a synergistic blueprint for success. Julie's vision is to enact change on a global scale, ensuring that the innate potential of every child is nurtured through the delicate balance of physical prowess and emotional intelligence. She stands as a testament to the transformative power of dedicated educational leadership and the profound impact it can have on students from all walks of life.
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