Carlos Sanchez has never run a race, but he’s one of NYRR’s brightest stars, thanks to running’s power to inspire people.
Sanchez first volunteered at the New York City Marathon as a high school freshman in the Bronx. He was part of Hostos Community College’s Liberty Partnership Program, which was aimed at helping at-risk students graduate, and the program’s director, Jose Encarnación, encouraged him to join them. Sanchez was a water station volunteer, and he loved it so much the first year that he returned for the next three.
“I was beyond impressed watching history in the making,” Sanchez recalls.
While attending Canisius College and Mercy College, Sanchez continued his volunteering habits. He spent spring breaks on Habitat for Humanity trips and even traveled to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to help the recovery effort.
“Whether it’s disaster relief or making New York better by showing the true potential of humanity, we owe it to ourselves and society to find a cause and volunteer,” Sanchez says.
Determined to make a difference in his own city, Sanchez chose the 2013 New York City Marathon as his next volunteer mission after he finished college—it was the natural choice for him. At the volunteer meeting, while watching a special presentation honoring retiring New York City volunteers, he couldn’t believe his eyes. There on the screen was his mentor, Jose Encarnación, being recognized for 35 years of service.
“I saw the picture and the memories came back,” Sanchez says. “I’ve volunteered at every NYRR event since.”
True to his word, Sanchez will be out on the NYC Half course this Sunday, leading a next generation of volunteers who’ll follow in his footsteps.
“I’m always amazed by how supportive and cheerful the volunteers are toward other volunteers and runners,” says Sanchez. “At any given race, someone will see me and say, ‘I remember you!’ and give me a cheer. I’ve made so many friendships volunteering, and those people are trying to get me to race!”
Sanchez understands runners, even if he has no plans to become one.
“It’s about showing the same enthusiasm you’d want to receive when you’re out there running,” he says.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg