By the MRG Podcast Team

Listen to this episode of the Michigan Runner Girl Show by clicking on the player at the top of this post, or listen and subscribe through your favorite podcast app, such as Apple, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Stitcher, and others. We also would love to hear from you — please leave a review, or drop us a note and let us know what you think about this episode and what else you’d like to hear on the show!

We’ve all heard about, or even taken part in, college classes that immerse us in real-life situations — these classes teach us in an entirely different way compared to sitting in a lecture hall, taking notes, and reading thick, heavy textbooks. But this one, the professional communications class at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, does something especially different for its students — it provides a way for them to bring a running event to life, from start to finish, while also giving back to the community in interesting and truly unique ways. 

The 7th annual Big Little Hero Race returns Saturday, April 23 to NMC’s main campus with a theme of Mentorship Matters. This race — a perfect primer for the Bayshore races over Memorial Day weekend, by the way, if you happen to be signed up for any of those distances — features a 10K, 5K, one-mile fun run or walk, as well as a virtual option.  NMC students Ayden Shore, Cristina Melgoza, and Matthew Bodnar join their instructor Kristy McDonald in sharing the story of this spring’s Big Little Hero Race.

“I think there are models of experiential learning, but not one that gives back to the community. And that was important to me, that they weren’t just growing as business communicators, but that they were growing as people and they were giving back to the community,” says Kristy. “They’re so engaged, they care so much. They’re just good humans and they’re showing that and that’s awesome. They care — they really, really care.”

For Matthew, helping with this race holds special meaning given his connection to Big Brothers Big Sisters. He was involved with the program as a child after his dad passed away.

“A program like Big Brothers Big Sisters helped me stay on track. It’s very easy as a young boy to get into the wrong things at the wrong time, so to speak. And Big Brothers Big Sisters just gave me a place to go where I could actually be myself. I could get mad, I could talk to someone who understood. And they didn’t make me feel bad about it. And I think that is so important and underrated. And we have thousands and thousands of kids around here who need that hope of help. So that’s why I think this is one of the best causes you could choose.”

Learn more about the Big Little Hero Race at biglittleherorace.com 

Listen to this episode of the Michigan Runner Girl Show by clicking on the player at the top of this post, or listen and subscribe through your favorite podcast app, such as Apple, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Stitcher, and others. We also love to hear from you — please leave a review, or drop us a note and let us know what you think about this episode and what else you’d like to hear on the show!

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