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11-year-old running to Sacramento
Part of effort by Mantecan to help Haitians
Young Manteca City Ambassador Eriq Kurys is getting ready for his Run for Haiti from Manteca to Sacramento. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Eriq Kurys is going to Sacramento – the hard way.

While classmates are making plans to hit the water or go camping with their families this upcoming Memorial Day weekend, the 11-year-old Manteca resident plans to go for a 65.11-mile run to Sacramento.

He’ll depart Colony Park on Friday, May 28, at 8 a.m. on a route that will end with him reaching the steps of the State Capitol sometime on Sunday, May 30.

Kurys is making the run to help raise funds for earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.
“It was just the way the Haitian people looked on TV,” Kurys said of what inspired him to tackle his Run for Haiti fundraising effort. “They don’t have anything.”

The Durham Ferry School fifth grader is undertaking the effort through the auspices of Manteca Youth Focus. He was selected as Young Manteca City Ambassador for 2010 for the youth group that conducts community service projects as well as entertains at public venues throughout the year.

“My friends think I’m crazy,” Kurys said of his plan run to Sacramento.

Kurys took up running when he was attending Neil Hafley School. He usually runs about five miles a day but has kicked that up to 10 miles in preparation for next week’s trek to Sacramento.

His goal is to average a little over 20 miles a day. He expects to reach a point outside of Lodi on the first day. His parents – Adrian and Karleen – will be following him in an RV with signs plastered on it to raise public awareness. The RV will also serve as his sleeping quarters after he completes his running each day.

Kurys said the Run for Haiti allowed him to combine something he loves doing with helping others.

“I feel like I can do anything when I’m running,” Kurys said.

His goal is to raise $2,000 in pledges. The funds received will go to Doctors Without Borders specifically for relief work in Haiti.

The run fills the community service project requirement of his involvement with Manteca Youth Focus.

He first joined the group over three years ago because of his interest in dancing and singing.

“The first time I performed (with the group) I wanted to throw up,” Kurys recalled. “There were a lot of people there.”

Since then, his stage fright has disappeared and being at ease in front of people has become second nature.

He said not only has being in Manteca Youth Focus helped with various skills whether it is speaking to people, listening to others, or working with others but it has also assisted him in dealing with anger.

Kurys is hoping to become either a police officer or a firefighter after college.

But for now his main concern is getting ready for the run and trying to secure as much funds as he can to help the people of Haiti.

If you would like to help, you can send a check to Manteca Youth Focus (memo: Run4Haiti), P.O. Box 2397. Manteca, CA. 95336. You can also follow Kurys on Facebook on the group page dubbed “Run 4 Haiti.”