On June 5, nearly 2,000 runners celebrated Global Running Day by taking part in the 1 for You 1 for Youth 5K in Central Park. Every runner received a fresh pair of New Balance running shoes, and thanks to NYRR’s 1 for You 1 for Youth program, so did a child in need. It was a beautiful morning of racing and community spirit, and there to document the excitement was 12-year-old Wilfrin Fernandez-Cruz.
Wilfrin is a member of the Rising New York Road Runners Youth Ambassadors program, which teaches young people presentation skills, preparing them to speak at NYRR events.
On Global Running Day, Wilfrin had the opportunity to shadow Frankie Alvarado, then assistant manager, social media for NYRR. Wilfrin’s job was to take photos, interview runners, and help Frankie post content to Instagram and other social platforms.
“It was an absolute dream that he got to do that aspect of it,” says Wilfrin’s mother, Lisa. “He took to it. We got there, and they gave him a camera, which was amazing, because I don’t think I would trust my 12-year-old with an expensive camera!”
The equipment was in good hands. As the event unfolded, Wilfrin snapped loads of action photos, sometimes sitting on the course to get the right shot. Because he’s autistic, Wilfrin struggles with social skills, but on this day he had no trouble interviewing runners for Instagram stories that—along with his photos—were later posted for NYRR’s thousands of followers.
“It was interesting watching him with the camera,” says Lisa. “It was almost a little bit of a buffer, or a way to approach someone and ask them a question. He had a purpose, which was really helpful. He wasn’t nervous at all from the moment we got there. There was no anxiety.”
Lisa says Wilfrin’s comfort level on the course had everything to do with his experiences in the NYRR Youth Ambassadors program. Since last summer, Wilfrin has represented NYRR at numerous events, and he recently appeared on camera for a video announcing the pro field for the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon. “His confidence in what he’s capable of doing has grown incredibly in the last year,” Lisa says.
Of all the events Wilfrin has done, shadowing Frankie proved extra-special. “He still says that was the coolest thing he’s ever done,” says Lisa. After the race was finished and the photos were posted, Wilfrin went home and ran three miles. After all, it was Global Running Day, and the avid runner had made the online pledge to join the worldwide celebration of the sport he loves.
“He 100% thought [Global Running Day] was really cool,” Lisa says. “He understood the point of it, bringing everyone outside and getting everyone moving.”