The McAllen Kids Marathon Kickoff event was held in unfamiliar territory Saturday morning, via the McAllen ISD Facebook page where video messages of support and motivation served as the spirit of the seventh annual event and encouraged the Rio Grande Valley community’s youth to live healthy.

Motivational messages came from McAllen ISD Superintendent J.A. Gonzalez, Mayor Jim Darling and Police Chief Victor Rodriguez, and included 2018 Winter Olympian German Medrazo, former New York Giant Keith Davis, and 2015 Miss Texas and Miss USA Runner-Up Ylianna Dadashi.

“I was your guest speaker at the Kids Marathon two years ago and four years ago,” Davis said in his video message. “I wanted to tell you that it’s a great, great event. I encourage all of you to participate, to stay involved, get involved. Remember, hang in there. Do not quit. Winners look at what they’re going to; losers look at what they’re going through. The marathon is a great way to stay in shape, to stay healthy, stay reaching for your dreams and keeping yourself energized.”

The event is usually hosted at the McAllen Veterans Memorial Stadium, drawing as many as 3,500 participants. Clips from the previous kickoff events were shown during the video.

Participants were encouraged to go outside and complete the first of the 26.2 mile marathon on Saturday.

McAllen Kids Marathon committee member Sandra Sanchez offered encouragement during the video and reminded participants that they will receive a medal when they complete the marathon in January.

Kids Marathon Chair Sandra Sanchez offered encouragement to participants and shows off the medal they will receive upon completion of the marathon. (Monitor screengrab)

“It’s grown every year, it gets better every year, and it’s a little different this year because we’re doing it virtually, but it still means that everyone is going to run or walk from their houses,” Sanchez said. “Everyone is going to get fit and enjoy being outside in this wonderful weather we have in South Texas.”

Those who participated were also encouraged to share videos of their first mile by tagging the McAllen ISD Facebook page and using the hashtag #MKM2020.

Videos shared on Facebook showed children running through their neighborhoods, parks and participating in various other exercises.

When the event officially kicked off, a 20-minute clip from Fresh Start Fitness offered an assortment of stretches and exercises for participants to follow along.

Participants will continue to log their miles from now until the final mile, which is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 16.