Site Spotlight: Lauren Bretzger – Mighty Milers

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Learn more about our NYRR Youth Programs! Over the next few months we will be sharing profiles on teachers from across the country who work first-hand with the NYRR Youth Programs that Team for Kids’ fundraising efforts support. These select individuals are not just dedicated coaches and coordinators, but also runners who joined our 2015 TCS New York City Marathon class and 50,000 other runners this November. Read their stories on our blog under the Site Spotlight category for insight into the NYRR Youth Programs and to hear inspirational quotes from students and parents.

In which program is your site enrolled?
Mighty Milers

What is the name of your site? Where are you located?
Tinc Road Elementary – Flanders, NJ

What was your motivation to start an NYRR Youth program at your site and how has it been implemented?
As a Physical Education teacher, my biggest motivation to start a Mighty Milers program at Tinc Road Elementary School was to pass along my love for exercise and fitness to my students. I have always believed that children need to love exercise in order to make it a lifetime habit. I was hoping this program would get the kids moving, and develop self-esteem along the way. Little did I know that 155 students would enroll, and now anxiously wait their turn to come to class and get in some laps! We implement our Mighty Milers program in Physical Education classes. We see them twice a week, and have them jog for 15-minute intervals with music. Students can also speed walk if a break is necessary. When the weather starts getting warmer, I would like to provide the students with time during their recess to run laps as well. We also encourage our students to run additional miles at home and have their parent send in a note regarding their progress, which is then logged by myself.

Can you share how your students have responded to the program and some of their favorite components?
The students love the program. Of course the students love the cool prizes they have received, but they also have made new friends within their classes. Most importantly, they all have learned that running can be healthy and fun at the same time. I have also implemented a mini award ceremony every time a shipment of prizes arrives. They all clap for each other, and encourage one another to keep working hard and trying their best.

Can you share an inspiring quote from a student or parent?
“Mighty Milers has helped us learn to love running and helps us become fit and healthy”- Christian Hertzig, 4th grade student at Tinc Road Elementary School

“I love Mighty Milers because it gets my body stronger and helps me set goals”- Joey Abrusci- 4th Grader at Tinc Road Elementary School

“Mighty Milers is so fun. I love to run with my friends while getting my body healthier”- Scotty Huntley- 3rd grade at Tinc Road Elementary School

“As a health and fitness advocate, I am thrilled that Lauren brought the Mighty Milers program to Tinc Road School. She has inspired her students to set individual goals for themselves and helped them to understand the importance of fitness through running.”

“My son JT was upset to learn that he needed to be ‘older’ to accompany me at the Gym. When he found out that his Physical Education Teacher, Mrs. Bretzger, was going to begin the Might Milers program, he was beyond EXCITED! So much so, he uses an app on his iPod to track additional miles outside of his PE Class. My husband and I are so proud of him and are amazed that he is working on his 3rd Marathon medal. Not only is this program benefiting JT in his recreational sports, it is also teaching him how to be organized, independent and goal-oriented. We look forward to our daughter enjoying similar experiences and success when she is able to begin the Mighty Milers Program at Tinc Road Elementary.” – Kelly Ann Abrusci, Parent of Tinc Road Elementary School”

What do you believe are the biggest benefits of your program and the importance of the work you are carrying out?
Some of the greatest benefits this program provides is watching the confidence build in each and every student. I had a few students who joined the program who absolutely hated coming to PE class. Since the program began over 4 months ago, these students have really blossomed and have broken out of their shells. They are making new friends, and are feeling more comfortable with themselves because of the goals they are accomplishing. Goals, they didn’t think were attainable.

When did your relationship with running begin and why?
I started running after high school. One day I realized I had trouble walking up the 10 short stairs to my front door. I was tired and out of breath on a regular basis. My initial goal was to lose 10 pounds and hopefully feel better. 30 pounds, 7 half marathons, and 2 full marathons later, I can say I truly love running. I absolutely dreaded the “mile run” as a high school student, and now I look forward to my morning runs that start off my day. I never thought I would consider myself a runner, but I can proudly say that I AM A RUNNER. Running showed me that anything is possible with hard work and dedication… Running for me isn’t something that I do; it’s a part of who I am.

What is your favorite place to run and why?
My favorite place to run is near a beach, very early in the morning. Seeing the sun come up, shining on the ocean, and the smell of salt in the air is spectacular! You can’t beat the flat terrain either. Not to mention, there is no better way to cool down than a dip in the Atlantic Ocean!

Were you ever a TFK member, if so what did you like best about the program?
I am excited to say that this is my first race representing Team for Kids! After learning about TFK through the NYRR youth program, and with a little encouragement from my wonderful husband, I couldn’t resist being a part of this amazing organization. I personally observed the effect the Mighty Milers program had on my own students, and I wouldn’t give up the chance to give a little bit back. These NYRR Youth programs transform lives every day, and I am happy to now be a part of it.

Why did you choose to run the TCS New York City Marathon and what number marathon is this for you?
This will be my 3rd full marathon. When doing the 2010 NYC marathon, I remember thinking… “There is nothing like NYC”. The NYC marathon brings so many different walks of life to celebrate fitness, perseverance, dreams, and running during the marathon. My Mighty Milers are also very excited that I am running. I am running to show them that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.

Tell us a little more about yourself
I am 28 years old and live in New Jersey with my wonderful husband and two dogs. I am a Physical education teacher and am so blessed to say that I love going to work every single day. Some of my favorite things to do are…of course running, going to the beach, soaking up sun, eating good food, and enjoying my life with the people I love most.

Why did you choose to run with Team for Kids?
I chose to run with Team for Kids because as a P.E. Teacher, I observe the positive effects that the Mighty Milers program has on my students. I wanted to give back to the organization that provides my students with Mighty Milers. The NYRR Youth programs transform lives every day, this was a personal thank you for all they have done for my students!

What would you tell someone who was considering running with Team for Kids?
Anyone who is considering running with TFK should, like Nike, just do it! Running with Team for Kids helped me with every aspect of the marathon. From fundraising to training, they offered useful advice and are available for any questions I had. When actually running the TCS New York City Marathon, running with Team for Kids is is like being a rockstar for the day! There are people cheering for you the entire way! You can’t beat the early exit out of central park and the recovery tent at Cherry Hill either. That was an excellent perk! I loved running with Team for Kids and would recommend anyone to experience the New York City Marathon through Team for Kids.

Sign up to run with Team for Kids at

Read the “Mighty 26 Milers” post race article here or see below:

“Mighty 26-Milers

They did it!

Physical education teacher Lauren Bretzger and custodian Mark Eckert completed the New York City Marathon.

The grueling 26.2 mile race started at the Verrazano Bridge in Staten Island and traversed all five city boroughs before ending in Central Park near Tavern on the Green. Students, parents, and faculty members tracked Mrs. Bretzger’s and Mr. Eckert’s progress throughout the day via a marathon cell phone app that monitors computer chips in racing bibs to pinpoint runner positions.

Mrs. Bretzger and Mr. Eckert received their race entries thanks to Tinc Road’s participation in Mighty Milers, a program developed by marathon-sponsor New York Road Runners (NYRR).

Mighty Milers encourages kids to exercise and helps them recognize the importance of physical activity as a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. About 175 Tinc Road students in grades 3-5 participate in the program. They set goals to run and/or walk a certain distance and earn rewards along the way for hitting various milestones and achieving personal goals. The incentives, all provided courtesy of NYRR, include medals, tee-shirts, certificates, picture magnets, wristbands, and pens.

Mrs. Bretzger and physical education teacher Brian Allen coordinate the program here and keep track of the distances that students run in gym class and during warmups. They enter the data into a NYRR website that students can access to track their miles.

“Because we were running in the marathon, the kids were really inspired,” said Mrs. Bretzger. “Brian and I always discuss perseverance in class and tell students they have the ability to do anything if they put their mind and heart into it. The kids really pushed themselves so far. They also have learned that running is something that you can do for the rest of your life.”

Mrs. Bretzger raised a total of $2,300 for the NYRR charity, Team for Kids. Team for Kids funds the Mighty Milers program free of charge to students throughout the nation. Tinc Road students and faculty also supported Team for Kids on National Running Day in June and raised $700.

This is the second year that Tinc Road has been involved in Mighty Milers. As of November 13, students have racked up a total of 1,036 miles.” Source


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