SAN DIEGO (KGTV)--A GoFundMe campaign launched last week wants to give a high school cross country team comprised mostly of refugee students a running start at this fall's track season.
The school year hasn't even started but Crawford High School Cross Country Head Coach Tlaloc Venancio and his team of more than 50 runners spend most days of the week pounding the pavement during off-season training and conditioning as they await a new track field to be completed.
Their summer running shoes are just about ready for retirement, Venancio said. A good pair of running shoes typically last about 200-300 miles and these student athletes are running between 50-60 miles per week.
That's why the Crawford High School Foundation wants to raise $2,000 to help the team get new running shoes.
"My guys and girls, most are not able to buy gear for any sport," Venancio said. "Their parents are working hard to just make ends meet."
Eighty percent of the team is made up of runners who are from Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, Mexico, Thailand, Somalia, Vietnam, Sudan and Eritrea among others.
"Running has given many of the runners in this team hope," Venancio said. "Many of their lives have been torn with war situations in their native countries and now in a newfound sport, they have found a special place of belonging."
Team captain Ruby Dircio agreed and added that running takes a lot of mental and physical strength.
She said despite the runners' diverse backgrounds, the team has a strong bond on and off the track thanks to Venancio's efforts.
"It has that family feel," Dircio said of the team. "I know my teammates have been through a lot."
Some team members, along with City Heights Runners, participate in reading club on Tuesdays and Thursdays after practice, when they read English texts and focus on reading comprehension.
"This just emphasizes that the runners have to work hard in all areas of their lives," Venancio said.
With emotion in her voice, Dircio expressed just how much her teammates had impacted her own life. The senior plans to attend Cal State Dominguez Hills and major in social work so she can one day help families.
The school's foundation plans to use the donated money to purchase running shoes from Road Runner Sports for almost half-off clearance prices.
To support the Crawford High School Cross Country team, visit the GoFundMe campaign page.