In the fall of 2009 in Brooklyn, Founder Nicoletta Nerangis was on a run with her then 7 year old son, Panagiotis Batistatos. As they stretched, she encouraged him to join a running team, when he said “No Mama, but if you coach it, I will”. He sparked what would become Run4Fun, inspiring Nicoletta to take her son and his friends to Prospect Park each Friday. Panagiotis had a deep love for running shying away from competition, which inspired Nicoletta to think of a perfect name for the group of young people, Run4Fun. They played running games, and ran the trails of the park, participating in races all over the city for one year. In the fall of 2010, Nicoletta brought the New York Road Runners’ youth programs, Mighty Milers and Young Runners to Panagiotis’ school PS 321 in Park Slope, Brooklyn and would continue to coach the programs for three years.
In June of 2013, Panagiotis and his fellow youth runners graduated to middle school, and the youth and their parents encouraged Nicoletta to begin her own running club. Run4Fun officially began in the Fall of 2013 in Prospect Park, Brooklyn with 7 youth runners, including her son, and became a 501(c)(3) in April 2014. Nicoletta’s social work background has enhanced a youth development dimension to Run4Fun’s approach, designing and implementing the Run4Fun life skills curriculum in each running session. Nicoletta, together with her son, found that other youth were also looking for a running program that promotes a love of running in an environment of fun. Run4Fun began to expand, partnering with community based organizations and schools to bring Run4Fun to the youth they serve. Today, Run4Fun’s program continues to grow and currently serves over 700 kids and teens after-school and during the school day.
Vice News 01.07.15
Nicoletta was interviewed by Vice News “Changing the Psychology of Running in Youth Sports” Link to article
Mindful Documentary : 01.05.15
The Director of Mindful interviewed Nicoletta: sharing her own personal story & her reflections about the stigma of mental health.
PS 321 Mighty Milers and Young Runners
Nicoletta was hired at her son's school PS 321 in 2010 as Recess Coordinator and brought the NYRR youth programs Mighty Milers to the school in the fall of 2010 and the Young Runners program in the spring 2011. Both programs took off "running"! The Mighty Milers program grew instantly with 700+ kids signing up! They ran laps at recess, participated in relays, running games, and earned incentives for their miles including marathon medals and t-shirts.
321 Young Runners
In the spring of 2011, Nicoletta started the 321 Young Runners team. Her son and 20-30 other youth joined and they practiced before and after school twice a week. The 321 Young Runners traveled all over the city running NYRR races of distances 5K to 4 mile races- the kids, including her son, Panagiotis finished races that they never thought they would complete. One of the youth runners, Gus Rader, never thought he'd run a race and was fearful, but has presently completed close to 20 races, and is a member of Run4Fun. Link to article
White House Honor
Nicoletta and her son, Panagiotis were very honored to represent their 321 Young Runners club at the White House. Nicoletta entered a contest on the Twitter page of Let’s Move, Michelle Obama’s cause to combat child obesity, to win tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll. Nicoletta was required to write a 150 word essay about what she was doing to combat child obesity, so Nicoletta wrote about her and her son’s story and how they inspire youth to get active with running. Nicoletta and her son were excited to win! They were required to tweet from the White House lawn on the day of the Easter Egg roll, and their tweet was posted on the White House page. The New York Road Runners contacted the Patch to write an article about their honor. Link to article
Run4Fun 2014 Spring Season: Run4Fun, Inc.
Run4Fun celebrated becoming an official 501(c)(3) on April 23, 2014- Run4Fun, Inc. Run4Fun had a very exciting Run4Fun Spring Season with members growing, and beginning the Run4Fun 4-8 year old age group. Run4Fun had its very first youth and family event with their special guest Derrick Adkins, Olympic gold medalist 400 meter hurdles. They held the event at JackRabbit Sports in Park Slope. JackRabbit supports Run4Fun in providing their space for bag drop off and pick up. Park Slope Stoop wrote an article about the about the event below. Run4Fun also had its end of year event in June 2014 with Karen Lewis as their guest. Achilles Kids Director, Karen Lewis has completed 9 marathons with MS. Achilles Kids youth run with Run4Fun, and were very inspired together with all the Run4Fun youth and families by Karen’s story.
Boston Marathon 2014
The Boston Marathon is very dear to Nicoletta, as she qualified and completed the Boston Marathon in 1999. Run4Fun youth runners displayed their “Boston Strong Quilt”, and participated in running games in Prospect Park as a way of honoring those on the day of the 2014 Boston Marathon. News12 Brooklyn interviewed the youth runners. It was beneficial for the Run4Fun youth to feel that what they did in making the quilt reached their outer community of Brooklyn to runners and communities in Boston. Link to article
Run4Fun quilt in VA
Nicoletta and her Run4Fun youth participated in the 2014 Apple Blossom 10K in Winchester, VA. They displayed their Boston Strong Quilt, were interviewed for a documentary that was being made about the quilt, and they all completed the 10K. Link to article
Parade of Nations Opening ceremony to NYC Marathon
Nicoletta and Panagiotis were honored to march for Run4Fun in the Parade of Nations, the opening ceremony for the NYC Marathon. They were thrilled to represent Run4Fun and march with Team for Kids and Olympian US Marathoner, Meb Kefezghi.
NBA All-Star Relay TCS NYC Marathon
The 2014 TCS NYC Marathon day was a thrilling day for many of the Run4Fun runners! Nicoletta expressed that she was overjoyed when she received the call from NYRR asking if her Run4Fun runners would like to run the NBA ALL-Star Relay. They would each run one mile of the NYC Marathon course together with an NBA star. Panagiotis and 4 other Run4Fun runners, also 321 Young Runner alumni were chosen and honored to each run with an NBA star. Panagiotis was paired with an WNBA star Ruth Riley. She won a gold medal in the Athens, Greece Olympics and played with a Greek team for over a year. Panagiotis was excited to share to his Greek ancestry with her. He expressed that when he finished running with her that he could have kept running, loved the bands playing, and asked when could he run the whole marathon! Panagiotis is normally quiet- but when asked if he had fun, he couldn't stop talking and his eyes lit up! It was an unforgettable day and inspiration for our Run4Fun youth.
Run4Fun Youth Runner Honored: 2014 Young Runner Ambassador of the Year
Run4Fun youth runner, Miles Bernstein was awarded Young Runner Ambassador of the Year by the mayor of NYC, Bill De Blasio and Mary Wittenberg, CEO of the NYRR. What an honor! He also ran in the NBA Relay!
Run4Fun NY1 Fit Kids: February 2015
Run4Fun youth runners ran the NYRR Gridiron 4 Mile Race in Central Park in February, 2015. Nicoletta and the youth were interviewed prior to the race by NY1 for their “Fit Kids February” They described how running can transform their lives, both physically and emotionally. Gus expressed how his life has changed-that running has really helped his stress with school.
Will Sanchez, Gotta Run With Will Interview
01.16.15 Nicoletta was a guest on Will Sanchez's “Gotta Run With Will” TV show, where she began the show singing the National Anthem, then was interviewed and shared her personal story, and the story of Run4Fun. Link to video
PowerUp Wellness Podcast Interview: Airing
01.18.15- Nicoletta was interviewed for the PowerUp Wellness Podcast Interview, sharing her personal story and Run4Fun with then Run4Fun Coach, Nick Santo.