Seven months ago, my daughter, Hannah, announced, “Mom, I signed up to run the Providence Marathon with DreamFar.” Immediately, I thought that she somehow didn’t understand her dad’s and my message that she needed to scale back on her extracurricular activities. Hannah’s freshman and sophomore years of high school were filled with drama club, tennis, cross-country, band and AFS and all of the practices, matches, meets and performances that go along with those commitments. There were days where Hannah arrived at school at 7:15 a.m. and didn’t leave until 9:30 p.m. With a full course load of AP and honors courses on her plate for her junior year, we blew the whistle and said ‘enough’. Now, she was somehow going to fit the high mileage of training for a marathon in her busy day. I walked into the DreamFar’s parents meeting skeptical, but by the end of the meeting I had signed up as a mentor! Although, I had been running since I was eleven years old, ACL surgery seven years ago made even doing a half mile painful. I thought to myself, “you can always walk it” and headed to buy myself a good pair of running shoes and some orthotics. What I loved about the program was that it was all inclusive. Participants didn’t need to be an athletic, as many of the students had never participated in group sports. There were no tryouts or qualifying times or expectations. The only criteria being the willingness to give something new a try. DreamFar was founded in 2008, by Jamie Chaloff, a high school teacher in Newton, MA. After completing her first marathon in 2004, she realized how empowering completing a marathon was and at that moment dreamed of beginning a high school marathon training program. Dreamfar’s mission is to address several of the issues that often get in the way of a student's success and enjoyment in high school. Dreamfar seeks to help each student – develop a sense of self-worth and self-respect – facilitate connections; in school with other students, teachers and adult mentors from the community – instill the value of hard work to use when tackling life's challenges in high school and beyond – and experience the value of a physically active lifestyle. Not only did I have a front row seat in witness this these changes occur over the months of training with my daughter and her fellow DreamFar runners, but had the immense privilege to experience these transformations firsthand. The miles of snow covered roads, rainy afternoons and breath-taking winds during those training runs gives oneself not only a sense that any mileage can be attained but any challenge in life can be overcome. If you would like to support this worthy cause, please consider a donation through Crowdrise. Thank you! Raquel
DREAMFAR HIGH SCHOOL MARATHON wrote -
The mission of DREAMFAR High School Marathon is to challenge high school students to reach their full potential--physically, socially, emotionally, and academically--through a mentor-supported marathon training program.
High School is one of life’s most challenging times. Students experience confusion, insecurity, and constant pressure. It’s all too easy to fall off the pace and withdraw.
DREAMFAR High School Marathon helps students build confidence, skills, and lasting friendships at this crucial moment in their lives. Launched in 2008, the program challenges students of all abilities and backgrounds to accomplish something exceptional: train for and run a marathon. In its first eight years, DREAMFAR has helped over 500 students from 15 Boston area high schools across the finish line.
Founded at Newton South High School by Jamie Chaloff, a special education teacher, DREAMFAR is suited for students of all sorts. Students who excel. Students who feel lost. Even students at risk. The formula is simple. You show up. You work hard. You have fun. Students train together from October to May, with volunteer adult mentors who serve as role models. On Saturdays, the entire cohort runs together. In May, they line up in their DREAMFAR colors at the start of the Providence Marathon. 26.2 tough miles later, they celebrate at the finish.
DREAMFAR is the only high school marathon program in New England. It teaches students how to focus, helps them makes friends, and keeps them fit and healthy. Most of all, it’s fun. Mile after mile, day after day, DREAMFAR students discover an inner strength that will guide them through their years in school, and through the years beyond.