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Our LA Marathon Runners: Meet Anu!


Meet another one of our amazing LA Marathon team members: Anu Patel! Anu grew up in a small city in India and moved to LA 10 years ago, where she’s worked in sales and as a financial planner since then. She’s a bundle of energy who loves to laugh, enjoys life to the fullest, and is always up for doing something outdoors!  We got to ask her our 5 top questions:


Q: Hey, Anu! What made you lace up your running shoes and join our team for the LA Marathon?

My friend Joy talked me into it! She thinks that I can do this and I decided that I have to give it a shot. It’s an extreme activity and I always said I would never run a marathon because it’s 20 miles too long!  But here I am, motivated, excited, and committed to doing this! And it’s great to have my friends I’ve known for 10 yrs running with me, including Tony!

Q: How’s your training going so far and what keeps you motivated?

My training is going pretty well and I have some great support from the friends that I’ve been running with!  What keeps me motivated is that I’m the first person in my family to ever do anything at this level. Kind of a huge deal! I have always wanted to do something extreme, and given that I have no real background in running, this is definitely extreme and it’s been on my bucket list for a while. What better time to do this than now?!

Q: What do you love to do in your free time?

I love being active—it’s actually a need given the amount of energy I have on a daily basis!  I love hiking, yoga, biking, running, and being outside with nature. I also enjoy traveling and exploring new places, so whenever possible, I’m outdoors a lot!


Q: A little birdie tells us you’re a die hard Seattle Seahawks fan. You must’ve been happy after the Superbowl! How’d you spend the Superbowl and did you celebrate their win?

OMG! This is funny! I’m a huge Seahawks Fan!  I loved every second of this season and also saw my first Hawks game in SF (terrible stadium and will never go back there! Haha). I spent the last game at this bar in Hollywood called T’keila, which is a Seahawks bar and it was nuts! I was ecstatic about the win and it was great to spend it with other amazing, die-hard Hawks fans!  I even kept a score sheet all season long with all the games we won and lost. What an amazing season!

Q: And lastly, what drew you to our Project Cookstoves?

My friend Tony works for your non-profit and told me about this project. I want to do my best to help raise money and support a project that helps and directly supports people to better their quality of life. I am happy to be a part of the this campaign and help out the best way I can!

Thanks so much, Anu! To support Anu, visit her fundraising page, check out all of our runners’ pages here, and meet our other runners here.

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Meet Our LA Marathon Team Captain, Tony!


We’re less than one month away from the LA Marathon on Sunday, March 9th, and um…our Team Captain, Tony Rodriguez, isn’t nervous at all. Right, Tony? Right?

In all seriousness, our team has been training hard, especially Tony, who is also the web/graphic designer at Good Neighbors. So we sat down and asked him 5 questions to stock up on a little inspiration for the next few weeks:

Hey, Tony! The marathon is just weeks away, how’s your training going so far? And as our Team Captain, any words of wisdom on staying motivated to train?

Aside from a few minor setbacks (mainly catching the flu and dealing with a really sore IT band), the training has been going great! I just hit my 14-mile mark and it felt awesome.  As for motivation, one of the best things you can do is not to think of the daunting 26.2 miles, but rather just take the challenge in smaller chunks of running (1 mile run followed by a 4 mile run the next week, followed by a 6 mile run the third and so on). Another thing that has helped me a lot is having running buddies that have kept me on track even after setbacks.

We keep you pretty busy here at Good Neighbors. How are you finding time to fit training into your schedule?

The great thing about training for a marathon is that it can pretty much happen during any part of the day. Although I hear that getting used to the brisk morning air is a good idea before the actual marathon, so I’ve been trying to run in the evenings after work and early in the morning on Saturdays.

You were in the Marines before joining our organization. What was that experience like?

I have to say it was definitely as much of a life-changing experience as anyone can expect it to be. I’ve gained the closest friends there who are like brothers and sisters to me, gained technical skills that I still use today (including for many of the things I do for Good Neighbors) and have a greater sense of self-confidence that I couldn’t have gained anywhere else. That being said, it was one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life. The process to become a United States Marine alone is a 13-week program that tests the limits of physical and mental endurance. After becoming a Marine, there is a continual amount of training and discipline which becomes an integral part of your active duty life and beyond.

You and your wife, Nika, always go out and do awesome things together. What are some of your favorite hobbies/activities/events/etc?

Where do I start? Coffee. Yes, definitely coffee. Nika and I attend many different events related to the coffee industry, like the San Diego caffeine crawl a couple of weeks ago, where we got to tour the coffee roasting facilities of many great coffee makers. (You can search #caffeinecrawl if you’re interested in attending!) We also love doing movie screenings with our friends—recently, a group of us have been getting together to watch every James Bond movie ever.  We’re close to the end!

The team is running to fundraise for Project Cookstoves. Why do you think it’s such an important project?

The cookstoves we build for families are a great solution to so many bigger problems. A new cookstove for a family means better overall health because they’re not breathing in toxic fumes, children are going to school instead of walking miles to collect firewood, and families form a closer bond because they’re cooking and eating together around the cookstove. It becomes their dining table and a place for community.  Healthy, happy families today equals a better future for everyone. It’s such a worthy cause that I’m proud to support.

Thanks so much, Tony! Support our LA Marathon team’s fundraising efforts and learn more about our Project Cookstoves initiative. And check out our other Q&A with runner Adriana Zyskowski.

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Our LA Marathon Runners: Meet Adriana!


We have some pretty awesome runners on our LA Marathon team and we’re excited to introduce them to you over the next few weeks! Our team will be fundraising on behalf of our Project Cookstoves, which provides families with new, safe, and energy-efficient stoves to improve their health and ensure children stay in school instead of spending their days collecting firewood.

Our first featured runner is Adriana Zyskowski, a Communications and Events Manager at Youth Policy Institute in Los Angeles, CA. We got to ask her our 5 top questions:


Q: Hey, Adriana! What made you lace up your running shoes and join our team for the LA Marathon? 

Two years ago, I sat watching the LA Marathon from a window eating donuts and laughing. Last year, I went to the finish line to see my friend, Katie, who flew in from Pennsylvania run, and still laughed, thinking that 26.2 miles is unreal – why would you EVER want to do that?! This past October, however, my friend Nellie, who’s the Campaign Manager at Good Neighbors, mentioned the organization had signed on as an LA Marathon charity. So I decided that I wanted to try it out and see if I could actually commit to doing it. After another friend from Florida decided she wanted to fly out to LA and run it with me, there was no turning back!

Q: You love surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding–how’d you get into those sports?

I grew up with a group of friends and boyfriend who are into these sports. I’ve always been into unique activities and ideas, and I was always drawn to these sports. I think they’re fun, and make you feel good!


Q: When you’re not out on another athletic adventure, what else keeps you busy?

I love traveling and am constantly trying to come up with the next place to visit. I also love the beach, reading, and hanging out with friends and family.

Q: How’s your marathon training going so far and what’s keeping you motivated?

I have on and off weeks (and those off weeks are ROUGH!) but I’m keeping motivated for a few reasons: Katie from PA reminded me that I get to run on the beach every day instead of in freezing East Coast weather and so not to take it for granted; I want to prove to myself I can do this; and if my family and friends are going to support me and Good Neighbors, I better make it to the finish line!


Q: Lastly, what drew you to our Project Cookstoves cause?

I’ve always had a passion for supporting projects in developing countries. I am grateful for how I grew up, and can’t imagine living in a place where a stove—something a lot of us take for granted—is one of the most dangerous objects in a household in Guatemala. I’ve known Nellie for over 3 years now. When she told me some of the surprising and sad facts about cookstoves, like how the toxic exhaust leads to 1.9 million premature deaths annually, or that children’s futures are affected because they spend hours gathering biofuels instead of going to school, I knew that I wanted to support the cause. Growing up in a household where my father was a teacher and our entire family values education, I know that it’s not fair that children miss out on an education because they have to risk their lives to live. I want to help ensure that families aren’t dying prematurely and that children have the chance at an education.

Thanks for sharing with us, Adriana! Support Adriana’s fundraising campaign here and check out our other runners here. Next week we’ll be featuring our Team Captain, Tony Rodriguez!

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