Benavidez Elementary School has 15 girls on the run

“Running was just not my thing,” says Joanna Subias, a second grade ESL teacher at Benavidez Elementary School. But, a year ago, she decided to do something positive. Next thing she knew, she was rushing down the street for the Aramco Houston Half Marathon.

Then, she says, “it was funny because my students started to see a change within myself and got curious about my running adventures,” some of her students even said: “we want to do it too.” And that’s when it hit her…

“We want to empower our girls, create a positive environment, encourage team building skills, and teach them perseverance.” So, when she got together with Adriana Rodriguez, another bilingual teacher at Benavidez, the idea was just unstoppable.

“We live in a high need community. In our school we have a wide rage of newcomer students, and need to involve our students in a positive environment,” Rodriguez explained. That’s why they reached out to the organization Girls on the Run.

Thanks to the support of the staff administration at Benavidez ES and the organization, which also provided shoes to some of the girls, the ‘idea’ became a reality.

On September 12th, 15 girls ages 8 and 9, began the after-school training at the school’s gym and have continued to do so Mondays and Wednesdays. The commitment has been such, that even parents are running the mile with their daughters out of campus. “It has become like a family affair,” says Mrs. Subias.

But like everything at certain moments, the girls, according to Mrs. Subias, “were hitting a plateau in their running,” and  that’s when our Multilingual Program Specialist, Lee Glaesemann came in.


“We thought the girls would benefit to hear about the dedication, perseverance and drive that it takes to complete something like an Ironman competition, as well as, how does using proper gear affect your performance. That Monday he came to school to talk to the girls… Wow!, did he inspire. It wasn’t just for the girls, but for us as well.” said Mrs. Subias.

Lee is an Ironman athlete, and believe it or not, he too, was just not the running type. His starting point was four years ago running for a 5K (3.1 miles). Right after his first race, he made this quote his motto: “Believe that anything is possible and it will happen”. Months later, he ran a 10K (6.2 miles), then ½ Marathon (13.1 miles), and finally, a Marathon of 26.2 miles! (Wow!).

But Mr. Glaesemann still had more to go… he said to himself “What if I try a triathlon?” And so he did. He started with a Sprint-Swim 500 meters, bike 12-15 miles, and run 3.1 miles, and succeeded. Then he went for an Olympic race-Swim 1 mile, bike 25 miles, and run 6.2 miles. The outcome? Accomplished. So, he continued training and a few months later, off he went swimming 1.2 miles, biking 56 miles, and running 13.1 miles on a ½ Ironman. More and more medals for him. Until the ultimate competition an Ironman which consists of swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112, and running 26.2… Yes, he prevailed!

Imagine the little girls listening and seeing videos and pictures of each competition… “They where so excited about having so much to do, that they began, as Mr. Glaesemann had explained, to talk about the appropriate equipment for the race and the importance of sleeping well and eating healthy in order to perform well”.

Then one of the girls with a worried face said, “I don’t know how I’m going to do it. I don’t have a place to practice my swimming.” Immediately another said, “Well, you can come over my grandmother’s house, she has a pool and we can practice there!” Teamwork paying off!

Finally, the third-graders where just blown away when they got the chance to wear the Ironman medal that Mr. Glaesemann won recently. But first they had to make a pledge: “I promise to become an Ironwoman, to exercise six days per week, eat healthy food, get plenty of sleep and never quit.”


For now, the competition has just begun, on December 3rd they will have their first 5K run on the Trafigura Run for the House. And guess who will be there cheering on: Mrs. Subias and Mrs. Rodriguez from Benavidez ES, Mr. Glaesemann from Multilingual Department, and why not… you reader!

Yeimi Bermudez, Samantha Castillo, Melanie Cortes, Keyri Diaz, Lashley Garcia, Natasha Garcia, Kimberly Gavedia, Ashley Hernandez, Alexandra Ramirez, Ashley Ramos, Katia Ramos, Dyanna Reyes, Ashley Santos, and Kaylani Vargas.

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