March 2014: Ryan Iwanaga of Sereno Group, our 2014 season top program sponsor
Local sponsors play an important role in helping Girls on the Run thrive. To thank them for their efforts, we periodically highlight different sponsors. This month's featured sponsor is Sereno Group. We recently caught up with Ryan Iwanaga, a Sereno Group co-founder and long-time Girls on the Run supporter.
How did you first hear about Girls on the Run?
I first heard of Girls on the Run through Karen Izzo (current GOTRSV board president and a Sereno agent) when the organization was in its early years of local development. Karen's daughter, Ansley, was a participant in the program. Karen saw her daughter become self-aware and empowered through the program, and she was so moved by the benefits of Girls on the Run that she became involved as a volunteer. As a father of a young girl, Girls on the Run struck a chord in me as it fostered what any parent would like to see in their child's developing awareness and sense of self.
What motivated you to become a Girls on the Run sponsor?
Karen Izzo's passion, the Girls on the Run purpose and the fact that the organization was growing steadily and having a positive impact. It really wasn't that hard to make the decision to become a sponsor. I have always personally found the benefits of physical fitness and the importance it plays in self-empowerment, self-esteem and goal setting. For whatever reason, society has always made athletics part of "growing up" for boys. Having three sisters, I remember their choices growing up being limited. Today is different. Girls on the Run offers empowerment and self-awareness through physical activity, which is life-changing.
What's the best part about being a Girls on the Run sponsor?
Being part of something that makes a direct positive difference in the people within our community. We often sponsor things for the brand exposure, but with Girls on the Run, it's about something greater: Serving the community in a positive way, making an impact that lasts a lifetime, creating self-awareness and empowerment. That's super powerful and really is the reason we feel so closely tied to Girls on the Run.
Ryan Iwanaga, co-founder of Sereno Group, finishing a GOTR 5K several years ago with his daughter Keats and his sister Courtney.
Do you have a favorite Girls on the Run story?
Participating in one of the first Girls on the Run 5Ks at Vasona Park with my daughter. There were about 300 runners (not the thousands who participate now). My daughter and I ran together the whole time and really enjoyed the race. I still have the photo of us running together.
What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a Girls on the Run sponsor?
The typical mindset when one considers sponsoring an event is the exposure and the benefit. It's not a bad thought process to go through and, in fact, it's the process Sereno Group goes through each time we are approached for sponsorship. But there are certain events that stand out because they have such a huge impact on society as a whole. Girls on the Run is one of those opportunities. Not only do we get the exposure of our name, but we're also allowed to participate in a process that has direct benefit to a new generation of impressionable young people.
Click HERE to learn more about becoming a Girls on the Run sponsor today!