February 28. 2022– VIRGINA BEACH, VIRGINIA – The J&A Racing Foundation, in partnership with area businesses and partners, will welcome over 4000 students to the Operation Smile Shamrock Final Mile on March 19, and 700 of them will have new running shoes! As part of the Starting Strides program, Jerry and Amy Frostick have made it their mission to make sure that area students are able to participate in the exciting race weekend and have worked with other local businesses to help fund the entry fees for the event, along with transportation and new shoes for each student.
“Originally when we created the Starting Strides program, it was designed to provide scholarships to cover race entries for area schools with economically disadvantaged communities, as a way to help eliminate the barriers that may prevent students from experiencing the Operation Smile Shamrock Final Mile,” said Amy Frostick, co-owner of J&A Racing. “The addition of the shoe program was created after I had the privilege of running with a remarkable young man that didn’t let his lack of proper footwear stop him from enjoying the sport of running.”
Beginning in 2019, all schools enrolled in the Starting Strides program have had their students professionally measured for running shoes by the staff from local running store Running ETC, and they each get a brand new pair of shoes for race day. Additionally, transportation will be provided for each school participating in the program.
“It really is one of the most impactful things that we do in our community- and seeing those kids running in their new shoes, is just incredible,” said Frostick.
The impact of this program is felt amongst the student recipients as well. “When I am running, I am exercising, and it gives me a chance to clear my mind,” said Rian, a 3rd grader from Virginia Beach. “I am feeling good and confident about running my first race and I am looking forward to seeing my family cheer me on during the Final Mile.”
Teachers recognize the power of this program as well, and many volunteer their time to make sure that their students are prepared for race day. “It is joyful to watch these students learn the basics of running while becoming part of the running community,” said Villa Cadle, a local teacher and run club leader. “They gain the ability to enthusiastically thrive as a group, help one another, cheer each other on and understand the value of giving and receiving. I cannot thank our sponsors enough for the valuable gift of running and community they have given to our running club participants.”
Area businesses have found great joy in being part of this program as well. “At Virginia Natural Gas we take pride in being a citizen where we serve and that’s why we are so proud to partner with J&A Racing in the 2022 Starting Strides program,” said Emily MacCartney, Community Affairs Manager. “This program turns possibilities into realities and creates lasting change in the lives of kids right here in our community. We look forward to seeing the scholarship recipients cross the finish line in their new shoes!”
Abby Dyer, owner of Orangetheory Fitness also believes in the power of the Starting Strides Program. “Community impact is a core value at Orangetheory- the shoe program involves local you, fitness, hard work and a healthy start to a healthy life- nothing better than that!”
Students are currently preparing for race day, and eagerly awaiting their new shoes. If you would like to learn more about the Starting Stride program, you can visit https://www.jandaracing.com/ja-racing-youth-fitness-programs/startingstrides/
About J&A Racing
J&A Racing is a nationally recognized race management company based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. With a portfolio of seven events, J&A Racing’s mission is to promote and support healthy lifestyles and the sport of running through all stages of life. Since 2003 when J&A Racing owners, Amy and Jerry Frostick, took over the Shamrock Sportsfest, the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon Weekend has become one of the most popular running events in the country growing from 3,000 participants to a record 30,000 in 2015. Additionally, J&A Racing organizes the Old Point National Bank Wicked 10K; the MSP Design Group Big Blue 5K; the BayPort Credit Union Surf-N-Santa 5 Miler; the BayPort Foundation Crawlin’ Crab Half Marathon & 5K; the Chartway Norfolk Harbor Half Marathon, 10K & We Promise Foundation Norfolk Harbor 5K; and the ADP Corporate 5K. For more information on J&A Racing’s events, visit jandaracing.com