AMESBURY —- The next time a friend offers you a suggestion, perhaps the wise choice may be to take it. It's worked wonders for Amesbury's Stephanie Menezes.
The summer before her freshman year at Amesbury High, Menezes was convinced to join the cross country team by her friend, Meagan Gallagher, and although she has since transferred to Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., Menezes has not stopped running.
Now a senior at Brewster, Menezes has become as much a running entrepreneur as she has an athlete. In addition to helping create a winter track team at Brewster, the 17-year-old has also started a nonprofit organization called Run4Fun that is operating youth cross country camps and is scheduled to helm its 2nd Annual Amesbury Run4Fun Road Races on Aug. 29.
Run4Fun's mission is to introduce the sport of running to elementary and middle school students and to teach them how to stay healthy through running by promoting self-esteem, confidence, self-improvement and teamwork.
"Our top priority is to let the kids have fun and to create a running habit for the rest of their lives," she said.
The idea for Run4Fun came about during the advent of the 2009 summer when Menezes found herself searching for an innovative way to serve her community.
She knew that Amesbury didn't have a youth running program, so upon offering up the idea to Kathy Crowley, the director of Amesbury Recreation, in the second week of June, the design was met with slight trepidation.
The Amesbury Recreation summer packet had already been printed and released for the public. Although the odds of recruiting a strong number of interested youths were low, Crowley and Menezes went ahead with the plan and sent out fliers to area families.
By the time the program started during the last week of June, Run4Fun had 15 youths on board. By the end, they had 23.