THE BRONX, New York City (WABC) -- The TCS New York City Marathon is fast approaching, and among this year's athletes is former Olympian Bev Ramos -- who is inspiring change in Puerto Rico as the island continues to recover from Hurricane Maria.
Ramos is helping to launch a new running program for children, giving her a new army of young admirers.
The 30-year-old has been named ambassador of the New York Road Runners free youth program -- Rising New York Road Runners -- and special adviser to Puerto Rico. She recently helped hand out free New Balance running shoes to students at PS 360 in the Bronx.
She still lives, trains and coaches young athletes in Puerto Rico, where she was born.
"It's going to help kids like you guys to get motivated and confident, and maybe you find your way through running," she told the students.
That's exactly what happened to Ramos, who started running at age 9 and never stopped. Even the rubble and debris left in Maria's wake last year couldn't interrupt her training regimen.
Now, as she prepares for this year's TCS New York City Marathon, she is launching the NYRR program back home where recovery and rebuilding continues.
"We want to make sure they are ready to be able to handle things, so we've had some meetings down there and we've sent some folks down there to kind of look at it," NYRR President and CEO Michael Capiraso said. "It'll be kind of a slow evolution. We want to go in and make sure that we can help the community really well through our programs and provide them with what they need at the right time."
The Rising New York Road Runners program already exists in about 800 New York City schools and in nearly every state in the union. Now, it heads to the Caribbean.
"We didn't have this before the hurricane, so I think it's amazing that we can get this program out there and help them have more confidence about their life and motivate them to do something beautiful in the future," Ramos said. "Bringing this down there is to say, hey, we cannot forget about the kids. We cannot forget about our people."
And that's a message to run with.
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Olympian, TCS NYC Marathon runner brings NYRR youth program to Puerto Rico