Healthy Faces Features

Stewards of the Community: How Community Leaders in Chandler, AZ are Making an Impact

For Ellen Tadman, her impact as a community leader goes far beyond the Sundays in April and November when she directs the Chandler, Arizona Healthy Kids Running Series.  One of the virtues of our program is that although there is a uniformity to its delivery, each community brings a different identity to their own Series.

Runners from HKRS Chandler

No stranger to running, Ellen has been immersed in the sport for the past 15 years.  But, it was not until she moved to Arizona from her home in Great Britain that she got hooked on the marathon distance.  A decade and numerous races later, she discovered HKRS in Boston after qualifying for the 2014 Marathon. Amidst her preparation for the renowned race, she came across our name in the program and she realized she had to bring the first of our Series to Arizona!

In the Fall of 2014, HKRS Chandler, AZ was born.  Wrapping up its 8th season last week, Ellen reflects on the program’s successes and her experiences: “I just love running, and I love helping others run.” The sport has had such a positive impact on her life, that the more people that she can teach about running, whether it’s through coaching, coordinating, or volunteering, the better.  That attitude is a big reason why the Chandler Series has grown to 300 participants in less than five years.

Runners from HKRS Chandler

Even with all of the success of the program, and a full-time job at a major corporation, Ellen still felt like there was more she could do in the community.  That was about the time she met Susan Loken and Kyle Herrig, business owners in the Chandler Area.  Kyle’s company, Triplex Training, partnering with Susan’s Believe Train Become (a local marathon coaching program), decided to sponsor the program in an effort to promote kids health in the community.  At first they contributed financially to offset some of the costs of organizing such an event.  But Susan and Kyle, too, wanted to do more.

Susan Loken, founder of Believe Train Become

As they brainstormed, Ellen, Susan and Kyle began to piece together an initiative where they could leverage their connections in the community and help individuals experience the sport of running that they love so much.  In the fall of 2017, they brought out 10 kids from a local homeless shelter. They funded the kids’ entries as part of their sponsorship, providing an opportunity that would have been otherwise impossible.

Another steward for kid’s health, Kyle’s wife, Kim, is a Physical Education Teacher at a local ‘Title 1’ school, meaning that 95% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunches.  Inevitably, much of the student population cannot afford the extracurricular activities that are the norm for so many other kids their age.

This spring, Kim picked out four students in her classes that were a perfect fit for their initiative: they loved to run, they worked hard, and they had great attitudes.  They were already living the HKRS values, but they could not necessarily afford to participate in the extracurricular events that they wished for.

Kyle, Kim, and their two daughters

Kyle and Kim provided these four with entry into the Chandler Healthy Kids Running Series.  What’s more, they partnered with the Chandler Service Club to outfit each of them with running clothes and sneakers.

Two out of the four managed to place in the top three of their individual events with another just missing out!  But, more importantly they got the opportunity to do what they loved, learn about running, and have fun.  Kyle and Kim got the chance to teach them a little bit about the sport at each race and what it has taught them in terms of hard work, motivation, health and happiness.

Athletics and community events are amazing for the opportunities they provide participants and the gateway that they become for friendship and comradery, as well as physically and mentally healthy lifestyles.

Ellen has seen these values first as a runner, and then as a community leader.  She goes above and beyond to provide these opportunities to anyone that she can because she knows how important they can be.

What’s more, Kyle, Kim, Susan, Triplex Training, Believe Train Become and the Chandler Service Club jumped at the opportunities to help youth because they care about their communities.  Chandler exemplifies the partnerships that arise through local organizations and just how powerful they can become.  Even if they can change the lives of a few children just a little bit, then they believe it is well worth the efforts.  Hopefully they can continue to provide these opportunities and we can all learn a little bit from their attitudes.

Thank you so much for all that you do for Healthy Kids Running Series and the Chandler area, Susan, Kim, Kyle and Ellen!

Ellen Tadman has been the Community Coordinator for the Chandler, AZ Healthy Kids Running Series since 2014.  She has two daughters, Alanah (11) and Ophelia (6) who have both competed in several Series (Alaina in all 8)! A father of two daughters himself, Alaina and Malia, Kyle Herrig founded Triplex Training in 2008, a fitness center that prides itself on its encouraging and caring community that provides quality training and fitness goals for its members.  Susan Loken started Believe Train Become after qualifying for the Olympic Trials Marathon three times, wanting to share her knowledge for the betterment of runners in her community.  Chandler Service Club is a volunteer organization that has 85 years of community service in Chandler to meet any and all of the needs of the surrounding communities.

Matt Fischer