UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY)  – Three months ago the Boilermaker announced the start of a new program that provides first-time runners from the immigrant and underprivileged local communities a complimentary entry into any of this weekend’s Boilermaker events. The program collaborated with the center’s making a connection program. The Boilermaker Access Program will give 6 runners from the immigrant community the first road race but welcome them to the city.

“I’m new here, I have been in the U.S. for only three months so I’m so excited this is my first time,” said Khin, a first-time runner.

Khin is just one of six youth who are running through the Making a Connection Program at The Center. The first-time runners have been training together on Wednesday nights, and with the help of their Program Coordinator Rochelle Crouch, and businesses and groups in Utica these runners are ready for their first race.

“Sneaker Store was able to donate sneakers so that they could run and the Boilermaker was able to work with the Access Program and run their first 5k for The Boilermaker,” said Crouch.

The runners will be representing Sudan,  Afghanistan, and Burma. Crouch says that this is a way for refugee youth to be exposed to a healthy lifestyle they did not previously have the luxury of, while also fostering diversity and inclusion.

“Refugees have been welcomed here for decades and for the Boilermaker to open their doors for people to get interested in running it’s a magnet for people from all over the country all over our City in Utica and all over the world. So it’s great that we can have a diverse field of runners that are local,” said Crouch