Tag Archives: running



It’s not every day you meet someone who can pronounce Kyrgyzstan, much less who grew up there! Meet Anna (Anya): with a Korean smile, a Russian accent, and a heart to  push past her own limits! We love getting to know more about the people who choose to go the distance; not only on our Good Neighbors USA LA marathon team, but to provide clean water for our friends in Zambia as well! Take a look…


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

Originally born in Uzbekistan, I grew up in Kyrgyzstan since I was two. When I was 17, my family moved to Los Angeles and I’ve been living here ever since. Although I am fully Korean, Russian is my first language. Hence, my name in Russian is pronounced Anya. I graduated from Pepperdine (Go Waves!) and currently work as a senior healthcare analyst. My life motto is Gandhi’s quote “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Have you always enjoyed running? What made you start?

I believe I started running in college. Running became a good way for me to release stress and give me some energy boost. I like running outside – it helps me to take my mind off of things.    

What’s your favorite pump-up song?

I don’t think I have a favorite one, I like to mix it up. I listen to anything from R&B to hip hop to reggaeton.

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

Running a full marathon has been my goal for many years, but I was always hesitant and worried I wouldn’t be ready. My former coworker Kayley -who ran the LA Marathon last year-  encouraged me and told me I could do it. I don’t think I will ever be fully ready (both mentally and physically) to run 26.2 miles, so I just decided to do it this year. I Anna1learned about Good Neighbors from my friends Esther and Kohyun who work for Good Neighbors, and I also ran a 5k with Good Neighbors last year.

What does a day of training look like for you?

It really depends but I try to mix up my training routine. I go running outside and hit the gym a few times a week.

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

One day I went for a run even though I was uber tired- never going to do it again! As I was running, I tripped over something, plummeted on the ground, and pretty much kissed the pavement. That was quite painful aaand embarrassing. Haha!

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

I think the faith that people have in me- including my family, friends and coworkers- will give me strength to finish. I don’t want to let them down. I promised my friend Esther that I will finish the race (she is one of my biggest supporters!). Also, knowing that I am running for a good cause will be my motivation.

Have you uncovered any parallels between your training journey and your life journey?

After I ran a half marathon last August, I realized that I will never Ann2know how far I can go until I give it a try and step out of my comfort zone. The same principle applies in life: we will never achieve our dreams and goals unless we push ourselves and take risk. I had been telling myself I wouldn’t be able to run a half marathon- much less a full marathon- in the near future because it just seemed unattainable. Some people have even tried to talk me out of it. But here I am daring to challenge myself. I know that both a marathon and life journey won’t be easy- there will be roadblocks on the way. But I am willing to take a leap of faith, and dream big!

What’s your favorite cheat day snack?

Donuts of all shapes and kinds.

Most important of all, what do you want your finish line hashtag to be?

I know it sounds very cliche, but I would say… #ididit

Thanks Anna!

If you’d like to donate to Anna’s cause- the Good Neighbors USA water well project in Zambia- click below!!


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Next up in our Meet the LA Big 5K Team series is Sarah, an 11th grader who loves watching soccer. She’s really involved in social issues at her high school, and was super excited to join our team. She answered a few questions for us:


Q: Hey Sarah! Have you ever run in a race? How’s your training going?

This is my first time running in a race! Most juniors are done with PE credits, but I’m staying in my JROTC Program for all 4 years, so it’s easy for me to practice running regularly! My friend Max (who is also in JROTC and also in The Net Project club), and I have been running together as well. Training’s a lot more fun when you do it with your friends, so I’m really thankful for JROTC!

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

As nerdy as it may sound, I enjoy reading in my free time! I’ve always liked reading, because reading a work by a talented writer can introduce you to so many different feelings, stories, and opinions.

Q: What’s your favorite subject in school?

I do enjoy English class, but I would say Physics is my favorite class this year! At first I was wary because it seemed like a difficult subject, but it’s interesting to see how some scientists managed to explain (a few) workings of the world with a few simple variables. Physics is immediately applicable, so whenever I learn something new like how an object rotates, I’m surprised at how often I can immediately connect that concept to things I notice in everyday life.

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

I was born with 27 teeth instead of 28!

Q: You’ll be running the LA Big 5K race to support The Net Project, but what are your thoughts about Project Good Sisters?

Although I’m running the LA Big5K Race to raise money for The Net Project at Van Nuys High School, I am a firm supporter of Project Good Sisters and its message of female education and empowerment. I recently read a book called “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn in my English class, which covered how female empowerment was essential to the economic/social/etc well-being of a country. Its absolutely unfair that someone’s sex dictates what one can or can not do. Women are a wealth of untapped talent, intelligence, and compassion and I think we–people who have the resources to help out–should work to first, make it even a possibility for women to pursue education and second, do away with the stigma attached to female independence to safely encourage more women to take advantage of their academic opportunities. A study in “Half The Sky” actually dealt with the same cause that Project Good Sisters is advocating; except, in that case, they didn’t fully anticipate the stigma attached to female menstruation and how it prevented girls from attending school regularly. The fact that Good Neighbors thought of ways to comprehensively approach this problem, including book bags to hide the sanitary pads and even outhouses to take care of their business with dignity, won my support. I’m glad Good Neighbors is addressing this often-ignored problem and helping out girls my age receive education.

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Q: What’s The Net Project?

My friends, Hwi Soo Kim (Van Nuys High School), John Kim and Steven Lee (Fairfax High School), and I started The Net Project this school year. The purpose of The Net Project is to send insecticide-coated nets to help prevent malaria in Malawi, Africa. We realized that malaria drugs were too expensive (cheap for tourists, but definitely not for the average Malawian), and resulted in drug-resistant mosquitoes that were even more dangerous. And surprisingly, after research, we found out that something as simple as a net saved lives. Finally, research also showed us that malaria isn’t just a health problem; it’s more than that. For example, Africa loses 12 BILLION dollars in productivity EACH year due to malaria. People sometimes say that fundraising for a disease like malaria is like throwing money down a hole because the community is often unreceptive to the programs that are trying to be initiated. However, Good Neighbors has already established a deep connection with communities in Malawi through their constant and varied aid (such as through building water wells through Water For Life and now, Good Sisters) and thus will be providing welcomed aid to a community whose trust they have already earned. This year, The Net Project as a whole is working together to raise $3000, enough to support an entire community with nets.

Q: What’s special about The Net Project?

I personally think The Net Project is special because as a high school club, it depends on young people being involved. When young people are involved in a humanitarian cause such as this, we’re not only helping others, we’re helping ourselves. Through technology, the world is becoming more “connected” and “globalized”, but often that same technology can make one feel insignificant in the face of the big, quite overwhelming world that exists out there. Helping out in events such as these reminds us that we too are significant, so I really hope that my club members and I will learn the valuable lesson of empathy and our own self-worth through our events this year.

Thanks Sarah, and congratulations on starting such a special project in high school! To support Sarah, please visit her page here and check out the rest of our team here! Want to join? There’s still time – just head over here!

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Our LA Big 5K Team: Meet Max!

Meet Max, an 11th grader at Van Nuys High School, who loves basketball and JROTC! He’s running the LA Big 5K with Team Good Neighbors and we’re excited to introduce him!


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

I’m a member of the Net Project Club at Van Nuys High, and Good Neighbors collaborated with our club, introducing us to their cause and allowing us to sign up for the LA Big 5K. I personally joined because I love helping a good cause whenever possible.

Q: How’s your training going?

This will be my first race. I’ve been taking brisk jogs every now and then before I head off to school, and I’ve also been practicing my runs with a friend, Sarah, who is also running the LA Big 5K.

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

I love working with computers, technology, and the like. I enjoy spending time with my friends, whether it be outdoors or otherwise.


Q: What’s your favorite subject in school?

JROTC (something many schools don’t offer). The Junior Reserves Officers’ Training Corps is a substitute for regular P.E. that also teaches today’s youth discipline and determination. It’s benefited me by boosting my self confidence and allowing me to meet great people (in turn, leading me to Good Neighbors.)

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

When I was in elementary school, I played six different instruments: guitar, violin, piano, flute, uke, and cello. I can only play guitar and piano somewhat now.

Good luck with your first 5K, Max! Visit his page here, and meet the other team members here. Want to join the team? Visit our page


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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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Our LA Big 5K Team: Meet Steffany and Ralph!

Our Meet the LA Big 5K Team series continues this week, and we’re excited to introduce you to Steffany and Ralph Ayala. These siblings love spending time with their family, traveling, and visiting Disneyland. We’re so happy to have them on our team!



Q: Hey Steffany and Ralph! What made you lace up your running shoes and join the Good Neighbors team?

Steffany: One of my main reasons was the story behind the purpose. I have done 5ks before but I have never done one for a purpose. I love everything Good Neighbors does, but the story behind the LA Big 5k made me excited to participate and join the team.

Ralph: I like working out and my sister asked me if I would like to participate in the LA Big 5K, and I thought why not, because the purpose has a significant value.

Q: Have you ever run a 5k? How’s your training going?

Steffany: Yes, I have run 5ks before. My training consists of having one of my best friends as my motivator, which is my brother. He wakes up at 5 in the morning to work out, so I go with him and feel motivated to finish the race.

Ralph: Yes, I have. I love working out and I’m always looking for the opportunity to get in shape.

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

Steffany: I love traveling, the beach, Disneyland, and shopping. My favorite hobby is spending time planning my family vacations.

Ralph: I love playing basketball and going to Disneyland.



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

Steffany: I’m really in love and passionate about the color PINK!!! Which everyone knows… but what many people don’t know about me is that I listen to country music.

Ralph: I’m a really outgoing and funny guy, but people don’t really know that I love to read and visit museums.

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

Steffany: Their smiles, and their stories. As a woman, I feel proud of each of those girls, because they are fighting for a cause that affects their lives. They are truly powerful and beautiful women, and they deserve to be treated like any other human.

Ralph: I believe that everyone deserves an education, and that these girls are making a difference by showing the world that if they can, we can.

Thanks Steffany and Ralph, best of luck on March 14th! Support Steffany’s campaign here, Ralph’s campaign here, and check out the rest of the team here!

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