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Runner stories

Brooks Booster Club helps young runners stay in stride

JFK HS students

Throughout 2021, we’ll highlight high school running teams from around the U.S that receive gear and funding through our grant program.

From ruin to hope

In early 2021, someone set fire to the cross country and track team equipment shed at John F. Kennedy High School in Fremont, California. The late-night arson caused about $60,000 in damage and wiped out the team’s entire equipment inventory — everything from high-jump mats to hurdles went up in flames.

“The runners were just devastated,” said coach Alan McGaughey, an educator for more than 50 years and the cross country and track coach at JFK High School for the past 19. “They were completely shocked that this could happen to them. The fire took everything we had. Their new uniforms were boxed up in that shed, and in the end nothing was usable.”

Coach Alan said he received a call from athletic director Paul McDermott the morning after the fire and immediately wrote a letter nominating his team for a Brooks Booster Club grant. One of the key points in Coach Alan’s grant application was that JFK High School is in an area where incomes are well below the federal poverty threshold. “Getting equipment replaced is going to be extremely difficult, especially with the loss of jobs of many parents in our attendance area,” he explained in the letter.

The Brooks Booster Club responded with several donations, including new uniforms, new team tents, backpacks, additional swag, and a check for $2,000. Coach Alan says that the school’s insurance has been able to replace much of the equipment, and the extra funds from Brooks will likely be used to purchase a new timer, a starter pistol, and other essentials.

Brooks came through big time. Our runners were really depressed about the whole situation, but this was a huge lift for their spirits. The kids love their uniforms, backpacks, and water bottles, and they can’t wait to get running this year.”

Alan McGaughey

Give young runners a leg up

Our need-based program provides performance running footwear, apparel, equipment, and funding to under-resourced cross country and track teams across the US. The Brooks Booster Club targets high school teams specifically to help close the gap created by drastic cuts in funding to running programs at that level.

Since 2015, the program has helped 129 schools and 5,500 young runners across the U.S. with more than $1.8 million in cash and gear donations. Each school recipient gets enough training shoes, racing shoes, uniforms, and warm-up apparel for a 30-person team, plus $2,000 to help with expenses.

Do you know of a high school track or cross-country team that could use the assistance of a Brooks Booster Club grant? Read more about the process and fill out an application here.