Thursday, October 4, 2012

Former Youth Volunteer Will Run for the Red Cross in the 2012 ING NYC Marathon

Although 2012 will be Mike Chan’s first time running a marathon, it is far from his first time supporting the American Red Cross.

More than 10 years ago, as a sophomore at Newtown High School in Queens, N.Y., Mike became a Red Cross youth volunteer. Volunteering, he says, gave him the opportunity to meet students from across the city as well as to participate in memorable events.

One such event was the Boston–New York Bike Marathon, during which he and fellow youth volunteers set up bike stands and handled logistics for incoming bikers.

Mike also fondly recalls participating in the Red Cross Christmas Toy Drive to benefit children affected by homelessness and disasters. Mike and fellow youth volunteers encouraged shoppers at the Queens Center Mall to support the drive by donating money and gifts. He also took part in park cleanups, parades and more.

Although Mike was not a volunteer during 9/11, he remembers that “When people saw the Red Cross symbol at Ground Zero it gave them confidence that things would get better. That really touched me.” Mike lost track of the Red Cross when he began working full time. (He’s now in the precious metals trading area of UBS.)

“As a young professional, the first few years of your career you lose touch because you’re so occupied with other responsibilities.”

While working for UBS in Singapore from 2009 to 2011, Mike realized that when he returned home, he wanted to run the NYC marathon, a dream he’d had since childhood.

Understanding that he’s “not a natural runner,” to prepare for the race, Mike performed yoga, biked, ran hill sprints and did strengthening exercises. Some mornings, he even woke at 3 am to run 13 miles before work. Recently he completed an 18-mile race in Central Park in two hours and 57 minutes, a pace slightly under 10 minute miles, as well as clocking a 24-mile run through Queens in four hours.

“At the end of the day, I really do feel some things in life can't be bought by money,” he says. “Effort and giving it your all are examples.”

Mike adds that this is his first time fundraising. Although the goal of raising $4,000 for the Red Cross seemed daunting at first, a UBS gift matching program helped.

Mike recently raised his goal to $5,000, and may raise it even further, to $5,500, because, as he says, “Why not push for the Red Cross? The Red Cross is everywhere, it doesn’t discriminate, it’s global, and I think that’s very good.”

Mike’s final word on running for the Red Cross: “I just want to come back to community service and help out; I want to make things around me better.”

If you'd like to help Mike reach his fundraising goals, make a donation on his personal marathon runner's page here.

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