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Selecting a charity to benefit from run was late, but not too late

C.J. Lin, staff writer at the L.A. Daily News is training for her first marathon, the Honda LA Marathon.  You can follow C.J.’s day-to-day progress on her twitter page and watch for her stories in the Los Angeles Daily News.

By C.J. Lin,
Staff Writer Posted: 02/25/2012
Updated: 02/27/2012

Part of an occasional series about a novice runner training for the Honda LA Marathon.

I’m kicking myself for not having done this sooner.

There are 70 official charities represented in the Honda LA Marathon, all great causes.

There are the animal rescue groups such as Noah’s Wish and Kitten Rescue.

Then there are a variety of charities aimed at finding cures for diseases – cancers, epilepsy, lupus, Parkinson’s, AIDS. And then there are groups focused on helping youths, the disabled, abused women, sexual assault victims.

So many to choose from.

So in an attempt to hopefully help more than one group, I’ve settled on the Peacock Foundation (peacockfoundation.org), a North Hollywood nonprofit which rescues animals and uses them in pet- assisted therapy for at-risk and traumatized youths, who often come from low-income, broken or abusive families.

“We utilize the animals so kids can hear the stories and project their stories and kind of get some answers by talking about the animals and process some of the things they’re going through,” said Lisa Peacock, executive director. “That way, when they’re talking about their stories, that’ll take away their shame and guilt and some of the negative feelings they have in their past. It’s a very safe way for them to process.”

Peacock, who started the foundation 10 years ago, found animals to be a spark for dialogue when she was going through tough times herself.

“Animals were really the things that enabled me to get through it without seeking things like drugs and sex,” she said. “It was a wonderful outlet.”

The organization now has 13 rescued and rehabilitated pets, including lizards, snakes and dogs, and has served more than 1,000 children in the last decade.

Needy animals and needy kids. It’s a win-win.

I know I’m a little late picking a charity – there’s only three weeks left until the big race – but I’m figuring every little bit helps. With the platform afforded me by this column, how could I not? At least this long, grueling journey will mean something more than just me getting in shape, learning to like running and taking on this huge physical challenge.

But for the first time in its 27-year history, things are about to get a little easier for those running to support the official charities of the L.A. Marathon. Charitable runners can now run half the race and let a buddy finish the rest.

The relay will mean more runners can participate, such as recreational runners who won’t have to run the whole thing, and let them raise more money for charity, according to Nick Curl, chief operating officer of the L.A. Marathon.

“The marathon relay will open the Honda L.A. Marathon to a wider group of people who want to challenge themselves and raise money for some very worthwhile causes,” Curl said. “For those who always dreamed of running right down the middle of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Sunset Strip and Rodeo Drive, but couldn’t commit to training for and running the full 26.2 miles, this is a perfect opportunity to experience our world-class Stadium to the Sea course.”

The relay handoff will be in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard before the Sunset Strip.

That’s where Ledys Lopez, of Sun Valley, will kick it over to her partner, Alex Yarza, a Hollywood High School student she’s been mentoring.

The duo is running for SOSMentor’s ShapeUp program. The organization is a Calabasas-based nonprofit that encourages healthy eating and fitness in underprivileged kids to fight obesity.

Lopez, 34, beat adult obesity by training for her first L.A. Marathon in 2010 in a walking group. She was 235 pounds and was a size 12-14. After the marathon, she weighed 180 and had dropped to a size 8-10.

Yarza also battled weight problems. Now, he’s a normal weight, healthy, and will be mentoring high school students of his own.

“Training for the 2010 L.A. Marathon allowed me to focus on my health, improved my self-esteem, and gave me an incredible sense of empowerment,” Lopez said. “I am passionate about educating and encouraging young people like Alex to establish healthy habits that will last them a lifetime.”

Then there are the unofficial charities such as the Keep A Breast Foundation’s Non Toxic Revolution, which advocates prevention-based education for breast cancer by limiting the use of everyday products that may contain carcinogens, such as certain shampoos or cosmetics.

They’re trying to raise $50,000 for a rock climbing wall for their community center that they plan to build somewhere in downtown L.A. The center would serve as a base where newly diagnosed cancer patients and survivors could go get information on treatment, and get physically stronger through rock climbing.

“I think it’d be hard in this day and age to find someone who hasn’t been affected by cancer,” say Casey Cochran, who’s running the 26.2 miles barefoot to raise awareness. “I think it’s very, very much so environmental, it’s what we’re putting in and on our bodies.”

So with all these great causes out there, please find a charity and give a little something.

Or if you want to show me and the Peacock Foundation a little love, you can donate at www.crowdrise.com/cjlin. Help me make this something more than just a tough run.

For a list of official charities, visit www.lamarathon.com/charities.

cj.lin@dailynews.com 818-713-3738 twitter.com/cjlindn

SUNDAY, MARCH 15, 2015