Running doesn't have to be about winning races. Just ask this eclectic group of runners.
True
DICK'S Sporting Goods

Running clubs can feel exclusive and elitist to runners who love the sport but don’t fit the typical profile. The Prospect Park Track Club (PPTC) is different.

Sure, you’ll find the usual bunch of young, sleek speedsters among the club’s hundreds of active members spanning neighborhoods beyond Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

But then you’ll notice something else — something felt more than seen. Everyone seems to feel at home in this club.


“It makes being in a big city feel like a small town,” says Crystal Cun, 32. “Anytime I run in the park, I see a familiar face. You end up doing things with people beyond running.”

PPTC runners hanging out after a run. Photo by Jimmy Leung.

PPTC welcomes and embraces newcomers, whether they’re runners who fall to the back of the pack or ones who stand out for reasons other than their finish times.

And unconventional runners aren’t just accepted — they’re celebrated.

Take Michael Ring, 54, who joined the club in 1991 because he heard the club helped runners get into the New York City Marathon and provided a bus ride to starting line. Over the years, he completed 29 marathons, including ultra-marathons on half a day’s notice.

Then, in 2014, he had a stomach virus that turned into acute motor axonal neuropathy, a severe version of Guillain-Barré syndrome, causing his immune system to attack his nervous system, which led to muscle weakness and paralysis.

“I went from marathon-ready to quadriplegic in three days,” says Ring.

He was hospitalized for four-and-a-half months. But during that time, PPTC members visited him in the hospital almost daily, and afterward, they rallied around him as he fought his way back to the starting line.

Ring running the 2017 NYC Marathon. Photo courtesy of Michael Ring.

Ring says he isn’t religious, “but my running friends did what church friends would do. I had my own community.” PPTC member Nicoletta Nerangis even became his “running social worker,” helping him navigate the new world of being a disabled athlete.

In 2017, Ring finished his 30th marathon — his first since his illness — alongside his teenage son Nicholas and Nerangis. Some PPTC members jumped in and walked beside Ring for a couple miles, while others formed a special cheering section for him at the finish line after nightfall, more than nine hours after the start.

Ring at the 2017 NYC Marathon finish line. Photo by Amy Sowder.

“It was amazing,” says Ring. This club offers the kind of support that’s rare to find anywhere else.

Chaya Wolf, 34, joined PPTC in 2013 because hardly any women in her Orthodox Jewish community ran and she craved company on her runs.

“I was looking for people who spoke my language outside the Jewish community,” says Wolf. “For me, joining the club was the best thing that ever happened. I don’t know what I would do without my running buddies.”

Wolf organizes strength training sessions for the club, and she loves running on weekdays and competing in Sunday races. (Saturdays are out because that’s the Jewish Sabbath.)

Since her faith has a strong tradition of modesty, requiring women to cover their collarbones, elbows, and knees at all times, Wolf wears black leggings under sporty skirts when she runs. While other runners have noticed her somewhat different running ensemble, it breeds conversations about her faith rather than scrutiny.

Wolf (second from the left) with her running mates. Photo via Chaya Wolfe.

“It’s cool. I stick out, and I embrace it,” says Wolf. “And that’s what I love about PPTC — it’s such an all-inclusive community of diversity.”

Not only are PPTC members of varying abilities and faiths, their ages fall on a wide spectrum.

When Lisa Maya Knauer started jogging in the early '70s, women’s running shoes weren’t even available in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Like most female runners back then, Knauer had to wear men’s running shoes or generic women’s sneakers. The market for this kind of shoe was just starting: In fact, women weren’t even acknowledged in the Boston Marathon until 1972.

Still, Knauer jogged off and on over the next four decades, until her friend Murray Rosenblith encouraged her to join his PPTC running club. Knauer was 58. Her first run with the club was the Dyker Heights Lights Run in 2015, which goes through an elaborate holiday light display. Afterward, people meet for a drink in a warm bar.

Members of PPTC on a winter run. Photo courtesy of Lisa Maya Knauer.

“Someone brought cookies, and I thought that was really sweet. There was this camaraderie. I got this great sense of this club being very supportive,” says Knauer.

Knauer, now 61, has led club fun runs to restaurants and to see fireworks on the beach. She started a subgroup within PPTC, the Slow-and-Steady Runners, for runners who worry about not being able to keep up with the pack at the club’s other group runs.

The club’s support even helped her meet her goal of running a marathon before she turned 60. Now she’s training for her fourth.  

PPTC makes it clear that running is for anyone and everyone — and at its core, it’s about bringing people together to joyfully move as one.

Photo via Chaya Wolf.

Many of these PPTC members would’ve continued to jog alone like they did before they learned of the club if not for that smile from someone in a PPTC shirt at a race’s starting corral or the shouts of encouragement from a cluster of red-shirted hooligans on the sidelines.

These highly competitive people accept that everyone is an equally valued team player in PPTC. Sure, beating your personal-best time is important, but so is enjoying those you meet along the way. Exclusivity isn't cool.

“When you wear the PPTC shirt at a race, you always have a friend, even if you go there alone,” says Ring. “It’s an amazing cross section of Brooklyn people of every age, ability, race, and sexual orientation.

“We’re just people — people who like to run.”

This story was produced as part of a campaign called "17 Days" with DICK'S Sporting Goods. These stories aim to shine a light on real occurrences of sports bringing people together.

Pexels / Julia M Cameron
True

In the last 20 years, the internet has become almost as essential as water or air. Every day, many of us wake up and check it for the news, sports, work, and social media. We log on from our phones, our computers, even our watches. It's a luxury so often taken for granted. With the COVID-19 pandemic, as many now work from home and children are going to school online, home access is a more critical service than ever before.

On the flip side, some 3.6 billion people live without affordable access to the internet. This digital divide — which has only widened over the past 20 years — has worsened wealth inequality within countries, divided developed and developing economies and intensified the global gender gap. It has allowed new billionaires to rise, and contributed to keeping billions of others in poverty.

In the US, lack of internet access at home prevents nearly one in five teens from finishing their homework. One third of households with school-age children and income below $30,000 don't have internet in their homes, with Black and Hispanic households particularly affected.

The United Nations is working to highlight the costs of the digital divide and to rapidly close it. In September 2019, for example, the UN's International Telecommunication Union and UNICEF launched Giga, an initiative aimed at connecting every school and every child to the internet by 2030.

Closing digital inequity gaps also remains a top priority for the UN Secretary-General. His office recently released a new Roadmap for Digital Cooperation. The UN Foundation has been supporting both this work, and the High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation co-chaired by Melinda Gates and Jack Ma, which made a series of recommendations to ensure all people are connected, respected, and protected in the digital age. Civil society, technologists and communications companies, such as Verizon, played a critical role in informing those consultations. In addition, the UN Foundation houses the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), which advances digital inclusion through streamlining technology, unlocking markets and accelerating digitally enabled services as it works to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Keep Reading Show less
via 1POCNews / Twitter

We're more than nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic and things are only getting worse. On Wednesday, December 2, America had its deadliest day yet with nearly 3,000 people succumbing to the virus.

America is experiencing its greatest public health crisis in generations and the only way we're getting out of it is by widespread administration of a vaccine.

However, if people don't take the vaccine, there will be no end to this horror story.

Keep Reading Show less
True

This year, we've all experienced a little more stress and anxiety. This is especially true for youth facing homelessness, like Megan and Lionel. Enter Covenant House, an international organization that helps transform and save the lives of more than a million homeless, runaway, and trafficked young people.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is Delivering Smiles this holiday season by donating essential items and fulfilling AmazonSmile Charity Lists for organizations, like Covenant House, that have been impacted this year more than ever. Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a charity of your choice or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

Sometimes it seems like social media is too full of trolls and misinformation to justify its continued existence, but then something comes along that makes it all worth it.

Apparently, a song many of us have never heard of shot to the top of the charts in Italy in 1972 for the most intriguing reason. The song, written and performed by Adriano Celentano and is called "Prisencolinensinainciusol" which means...well, nothing. It's gibberish. In fact, the entire song is nonsense lyrics made to sound like English, and oddly, it does.

Occasionally, you can hear what sounds like a real word or phrase here and there—"eyes" and "color balls died" and "alright" a few times, for example—but it mostly just sounds like English without actually being English. It's like an auditory illusion and it does some super trippy things to your brain to listen to it.

Plus the video someone shared to go with it is fantastic. It's gone crazy viral because how could it not.

Keep Reading Show less

With vaccine rollouts for the novel coronavirus on the horizon, humanity is getting its first ray of hope for a return to normalcy in 2021. That normalcy, however, will depend on enough people's willingness to get the vaccine to achieve some level of herd immunity. While some people are ready to jump in line immediately for the vaccine, others are reticent to get the shots.

Hesitancy runs the gamut from outright anti-vaxxers to people who trust the time-tested vaccines we already have but are unsure about these new ones. Scientists have tried to educate the public about the development of the new mRNA vaccines and why they feel confident in their safety, but getting that information through the noise of hot takes and misinformation is tricky.

To help increase the public's confidence in taking the vaccine, three former presidents have volunteered to get their shots on camera. President George W. Bush initially reached out to Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx to ask how he could help promote a vaccine once it's approved. Presidents Obama and Bill Clinton have both stated that they will take the vaccine if it is approved and will do so publicly if it will help more people feel comfortable taking it. CNN says it has also reached out to President Jimmy Carter to see if he is on board with the idea as well.

A big part of responsible leadership is setting an example. Though these presidents are no longer in the position of power they once held, they are in a position of influence and have offered to use that influence for the greater good.

Keep Reading Show less