Tag Archives: fundraising


LA MARATHON | Meet Manami

Manami has been working with Good Neighbors Japan since 2012, but came out recently to visit our US branch! She’s in a different country and culture, but decided to throw a half-marathon into the mix!  We find that inspiring. Here’s a little introduction to this gem. 


Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from?

I’m here in the US from Good Neighbors Japan!!  I’m visiting LA to learn all about fundraising.

Have you always had an active lifestyle? What made you start running?

I love riding my bike on weekends to explore new places! To be honest, I’ve always been more interested in bike riding than running because it’s faster and I enjoy the breeze. But Good Neighbors gave me a reason to start running!

Have you ever tackled something as big as a marathon before?

Never! I’m actually a bit nervous because  this is my first fundraising experience here in the US. Haha.

What inspired you to run the LA Marathon for Good Neighbors?

I’ve been working with Good Neighbors Japan since 2012, and I just love everyone in this organization and what they do for people with real needs. It just made sense to join in with something good our US branch was doing while I was here!

Have you had any “I hope no one saw that” moments while training?

Ha, I think sometimes I have a pretty grim face on while I’m training. I always hope no one sees that, but it’s not likely.

Do you have a mental strategy to combat thoughts of quitting if the marathon starts to get tough?

I’ll definitely remind myself why I’m running the marathon, and think of the people in Zambia who are waiting for our support!

Have you learned anything from running that has shifted your perspective of life?

Yeah, it’s shown me that every single step gets me closer to my goal, even if the process seems slow.

What’s your favorite cheat day snack?

Skittles and Chex Mix! Because we don’t have them in Japan 😉


Manami and the rest of our Good Neighbors marathon team are raising money for our Zambia water well project! Help Manami reach her goal!


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This week, we’re introducing you to Esther, who will be running her first 5K ever with Team Good Neighbors! We’re thrilled to have her join our team, and we wish her the best of luck during her last few weeks of training!

















Q: Hi Esther! What made you lace up your running shoes and join the Good Neighbors team?

I’ve actually been wanting to run a 5K for a little time now, but never really went out of my way to do so. I haven’t intentionally run since probably P.E. class! Now I have a great opportunity and motivating reason to run, and for a great cause too!!

Q: So, we heard that this is going to be your first 5K! How are you going to train, and what do your family and friends think about this?

I’m still transitioning myself into training mode and got a bit sick just recently. I’m still recovering, but I am so excited!! My friends and family were so surprised when I told them that I was going to run the 5K. “YOU’RE gonna run?” is the overall shocked response I get. To train, I’m going to try as much as I can to go to Griffith Park and prepare!












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

I recently became interested in learning calligraphy and have been trying to brush up on my calligraph (pun intended!). I also like to play the piano or read, and love shopping and hanging out with my friends! I’d like to make it a hobby to travel more, too.

Q: What’s a fun fact about you many people might not know?

I love solving riddles or reading/watching a really good mystery.

Q: Finally, what drew you to the Project Good Sisters  cause?

As a woman who has had the privilege to freely attend school all my life — constantly being encouraged by others to squeeze out and learn as much as I can from my education, and perhaps even feeling forced at times to go to school — I know many times I have taken for granted my basic right to receiving an education. I never really recognized the hardships that people in many other parts of the world had to face in order to receive an education. I am so inspired and encouraged by these people who are each fighting for their basic right to education, and I feel really privileged to be a part of this great cause that is making a difference!

I love this quote by Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education: “In some parts of the world, students are going to school every day. It’s their normal life. But in other parts of the world, we are starving for education… it’s like a precious gift. It’s like a diamond.”



Thanks Esther, we love that quote too, and we hope it motivates you while you run on March 14th! To support Esther’s campaign, visit here, and check out the rest of the team 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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