Glen Echo Brothers Run 50 Miles for Charity
Joe and Andy Horton have pledged to run the 50-mile Northface Endurance challenge in June, already raising over $14,000 for youth sports scholarships.
Early one Sunday morning Joe Horton and his brother Andy woke up, got dressed and went outside for a nine-mile run. When that was finished, they headed over to Carderock to run another 26 miles in the Potomac River Run marathon. The day’s total was 35 miles.
Four years ago, Horton couldn’t run the length of his driveway in Atlanta, GA. Today, the Washington, D.C.- area transplant is training to complete the 50-mile Northface Endurance challenge in June. But his mission isn’t just bragging rights. The 41-year-old is attempting to raise $20,000 to establish a scholarship fund for underprivileged kids interested in playing youth sports with Koa Sports, an organization that uses former college and professional athletes to teach sports fundamentals to boys and girls.
The organization had been looking to create a scholarship program for underprivileged youth, but hadn’t found the energy or the means to do so until Horton came along, according to Koa co-founder Wayne Cohen. Horton has raised money for charity organizations through running in the past, and says he thought raising money for Koa would be a perfect opportunity to help a local organization. He chose a 50-mile race to grab people’s attention.
“We didn’t have anyone out there who was willing to step up and do what Joe is doing. We are truly grateful,” Cohen said. “Our goal was $5,000 but Joe has blown that out of the water.”
Horton says he grew up playing sports and after moving to Glen Echo three years ago, he and his wife searched for a sports outlet for their son, Jackson. When they found Koa, Horton says he quickly developed a friendship with the founders and an appreciation for the quality of the program.
Depending on the amount raised, Horton’s scholarship has the potential to help more than 100 students participate in the Koa program, renowned in the youth sports world for its approach to coaching. Registration for a Koa program can range from $100 to $1,000, he said.
The organization fields requests each season from families that are turned away for financial reasons, though Cohen said he couldn’t name an exact number.
“Most come from other areas of the county with a different demographic than Potomac, Bethesda and Chevy Chase,” he said.
Horton says his message has spread like wildfire. His original goal started at $5,000, but he quickly surpassed that goal and has now raised more than $14,000.
“I know what my son has gained in the two years he’s participated, and how he’s grown – from an athletic standpoint, from a character-building stand point,” Horton said. “This would be a great opportunity for a kid that might not be able to financially afford it otherwise”
Neither Joe nor Andy are life-long runners. Joe says he got into the sport after gaining weight right along side his wife during her pregnancy.
“Nothing fit, and I’m like ‘I have got to do something,’ So I started running and just little by little I got better. Then I realized it’s distressing my life and it’s pretty fun,” he said.
The brothers finished their major training run with the 33-mile trek on May 6. Now the two are working to maintain endurance and continue working on injury prevention before their race on June 2.
“It’s nice being able to come out here and work through all of the issues of the day,” Joe said. “I’m not fast, but I can run far. I enjoy challenging myself and pushing myself to see what I can do.”
For Andy, the goal is just to finish. Joe hopes the two of them can average five miles per hour, to finish the race in 10 hours. On average the two are running six miles an hour, and they anticipate staying together through the first half of the race.
“My first marathon was [on May 6], and I ran nine miles before that, which was mental,” Andy Horton said. “I’m not trying to break any records. I’m going at my own pace.”
For first time runners, the two recommend baby steps, finding a partner and running on trails.
“No matter how hard it is, don’t stop,” they said.
To donate to the Hortons’ cause visit Koa's fundraising website.