Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrea Kooiman.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Some people love to run, others learn to respect it, and however, I have found that everyone can benefit from it. I am lucky in the fact that I have always loved to run and that passion for running has only grown over the years.
I ran my first marathon in 2006. Like many others, it was on my “bucket list” of things to do; however, it seemed like a far-off dream until I met someone that was willing to train with me every step of the way. Having a training partner and accountability made the miles more enjoyable and kept me honest about the distance.
Crossing the finish line was incredible. After 6 months of training and 26.2 miles of pounding the pavement, I was a marathon finisher. I felt so broken that day and yet so alive. I knew that I had accomplished something that so few people will ever achieve and I was proud.
That finish line feeling is infectious, and it gets inside of you. I wanted more. Not only that, I wanted to share that feeling with others. I began coaching a youth marathon training program at my son’s school. He too had expressed interest in running a marathon after sharing the final mile with me at one of my races.
It was quite the journey to watch as the kids in the program transformed during the 6 months of preparation for the marathon. They were confident, strong and proud. They learned how to set goals, work hard, persevere and push through obstacles. By the time the crossed the finish line, these kids believed they could do anything… and they were right.
After a few years coaching for the Los Angeles based program, I started the Orange County version to be closer to home and impact more kids in my direct area. That is how We Run Orange County’s Kids – WeROCK was born.
We Run Orange County’s Kids is a nonprofit, public-service corporation that provides after-school intervention programs for Middle and High School students in the Orange County, California area.
Based on the idea that life is like a Marathon, the mission of We ROCK is to teach our community’s teenagers the important life skills of goal setting, self-reliance, discipline and self-confidence through the design and delivery of instructional programs focused on the proper training for, and completion of, a marathon.
It is the passion of my heart and what fuels me to keep running!
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Operating a non-profit does not come without its challenges. Funding is always an issue as you want to keep the program costs down for the kids in the program. We have been very lucky to work with some amazing volunteer coaches that devote 7 months of their time to training the kids. It is a labor of love, but everyone is invested in the success of the kids.
We Run Orange County’s Kids – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
As an organization, We Run Orange County’s Kids is committed to providing:
-Education and ongoing exposure to the most up to date health, nutrition and physical fitness information available via the latest in medical research.
-Training for our runners, staff, and volunteers to ensure that our participants carry these life lessons with them into, and throughout, adulthood.
-Support for our teams by involving the families and community members of the participants in the training, mentoring and motivation of our runners.
-Encouragement to empower Orange County’s youth to accomplish goals well beyond the scope of a 26.2-mile run.
We are a non-competitive training program that accepts all kids regardless of their athletic background or exposure to sports. Everyone begins with 1 mile, and we build the foundation of training from there. Because our program is set up to celebrate individual success, kids don’t feel the same pressure of letting the team down.
It’s beautiful to watch as each runner builds confidence in their ability and conquers new distance and/or time PR’s (personal records).
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The transformation of the kids from 1 mile to 26.2 miles is always fun to watch. They learn so much about themselves, and it opens the door to so many new possibilities as they learn how strong they are!
My favorite is when kids reach out to me years later to tell me what the program meant to them. When they send me a message on social media or still have my cell phone saved after all this time. “Hey Coach K, want to meet up for a run?” I LOVE THAT, and it never gets old.
- The program cost is $700 for a 7 month training season. This includes coach-led practices, uniform and clinics that surround all areas of marathon running. This includes all of their race entry fees.
- Address: 30 Mulholland Ct. Mission Viejo, CA 92692
- Website: http://werunockids.org/
- Phone: 949-309-3055
- Email: email@example.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/We-Run-Orange-Countys-Kids-WeROCK-259840687359964/