Thousands of people celebrated the power of mentoring Saturday at Riverside Park as Big Brothers Big Sisters held its 6th annual Race for the Kids to teach children -- and remind adults -- what winning and achievement are all about.
Sometimes, it's measured just by showing up.
"This is the culmination to see how far along the race we can make it before we have to stop," said Nelson Leung, a Big Brother with the program, which has worked tirelessly for more than a century to develop the city's neediest youth and help them reach their potential.
People did come to run, but the annual race is really more of a celebration of what Big Brothers Big Sisters stands for and what it is hoping to change.
As one woman with the organization pointed out, 460,000 children from single-parent households in New York City are living below the poverty line.
That's a formidable number, considering Big Brothers Big Sisters is only able to help about 3,000 of those in need at this time. This weekend's race aims to change that with a goal of raising $1 million -- the most ambitious amount in the event's history -- to bolster the program and expand its efforts.
While the number of children in need has risen, one comforting factor is that the scope of the program's sponsorship has risen as well.
Nickelodeon used the event to kick off its worldwide day of play -- a time to encourage children to get off the couch, away from the computer, and play outside.
Participants enjoyed climbling, obstacle courses and even a sack race. But despite all the clearly delineated finish lines, true victory seemed to be achieved much more personally -- through the development and sustainment of mentoring relationships over time.
"She's like my sister," said Weldon.
Kerlegrand echoed those sentiments, adding, it's "like she's related to me."