The latest New Yorker of the Week builds healthy hearts and healthy minds in her native Harlem community. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
When it comes to fitness clubs, you might think of exclusive memberships. But Harlem Run is one group that doesn’t leave anyone behind.
"It definitely feels like a family," says runner Aubrey Calabrass. "Everybody is, like, very close to each other. It’s so fun. Every time you run, it's always somebody pushing you, making you go hard. So everybody is, like, there for each other, having each other's back."
Going the distance to create the inclusive environment is Alison Desir. In 2013, Alison founded Harlem Run after finishing her first New York City Marathon.
"I was connecting with people through running. I was doing things I never thought that I could do before. I never imagined that I was going to run a marathon, and all of a sudden, I started feeling better about myself. So what I realized is, I wanted to share that experience with more people," Alison says.
Today, Alison is sharing that experience with hundreds of New Yorkers. Harlem Run works to change the culture of fitness and prove that running with a support system can change lives.
"Alison has created a family here, and it’s very supportive and very encouraging, and you kind of want to be excellent," says runner Cynthia Reed.
"I feel a sense of freedom. I feel a sense of euphoria at times. Sometimes, I feel pain," says runner Joseph Shayne. "Running makes me appreciate my life that much more."
Alison also hosts events in Harlem that instill healthy eating and exercise habits in runners of all ages.
"You’re seeing now that fitness is not only good for you, but fitness is a lot of fun," Alison says. "People are trying things they’ve never tried before. I’ve see people go from walkers to now marathon runners."
"Alison being confident makes me confident because she makes me feel like I can do something like this when I grow up," says runner Noah Feliz.
So, for leading a running revolution with roots in Harlem, Alison Desir is the latest New Yorker of the Week.