SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Kenan Pala is a senior on the Francis Parker cross country team. So it makes sense that he loves to run, and run, and run. It began back in elementary school when he was inspired by his teacher who ran triathlons.
"Before I started running I did triathlons. I did that for fun, then after a while, I realized I really didn't like the swimming and the biking. So I thought maybe I'll just run."
Kenan says while in middle school he was pretty good at running, but not the best. So he put in a lot of hard work, and now he happens to be one of the top cross country runners in San Diego as well as the state.
"I've always believed that if you want to be successful in any sport you have to understand the longevity of it. My senior year I am exactly right where I want to be. I am the best I can be going into college."
That happens to be the perfect word, "best". A few weeks back, Kenan ran a 14:11:11 on a 3-mile course which turned out to be the best time ever in CIF San Diego Section history.
"Someone called me to tell me it was the fastest time ever. I knew it was fast and that I was happy with it."
Kenan says his work ethic was instilled in him by his parents who immigrated to the United States from Turkey in 1998.
"So naturally, when I was born they wanted me to understand how lucky I am to be here, and not back in Turkey."
So as a kid his parents made it a point to get Kenan out in the community volunteering, which wasn't always easy.
"It's not easy to find volunteering opportunities for kids."
At the age of 13, he solved that problem by starting his own non-profit, Kids4Community.
"It's the simple concept of kids should be able to volunteer. I mean they are great volunteers, and why should their age restrict them. So that is what we do, we make events and partner with organizations. It's all about promoting kid volunteerism and getting kids out there taking an active role in their community."
For this Frances Parker senor, running fast times is rewarding, as is starting a business. Kenan says there are similarities.
"I think it's all about being my best self and doing everything I can to leave the impact that I want. Following the things I'm passionate about, and not doing anything because I have to but because I get to."
Next year, Kenan will be moving on to college where he will run cross country at Yale.