Former Wildcat track star finds inspiration in helping others
Arthemon Sindayigaya ('04) was born to run - and run he has. From his childhood in war-torn Africa to the track at Abilene Christian, Arthemon is still running. But this fleet-footed Burundian is running for something far more important than an NCAA national championship. He has a sense of gratitude and has made it his life's mission to give back.
My parents would always remind me to try and help others. I figured that helping children learn how to run properly, and with joy, was one gift that I could give back.
"God gave me many gifts: the ability to run, a collegiate scholarship, many teachers at ACU that were able to help me with many things," he says. "When I started at ACU, I didn't know any English, my teachers were patient with me and helped me with my studying. Students would also help me with the homework assignments that I didn't understand."
Cool Runnings track club
Art - a two-time NCAA Division II national champion - takes nothing for granted. He knows he was able to make it in the United States through hard work and the help of others.
"My parents would always remind me to try and help others. I figured that helping children learn how to run properly, and with joy, was one gift that I could give back," he says.
Five years ago, Art began coaching home-schooled students in need of a track coach. Today, he can be found coaching young children, middle-school students, and high school seniors headed to major college track and field programs on scholarship.
The club, aptly named Cool Runnings, is a chance for Art to teach what he knows best. Along the way, he hopes to make a difference. If you ask him to divulge his life goal, the answer is simple: "To have an impact on other people's lives."
Sharing shoes to change young lives
However, his endeavors to help people have far exceeded just coaching. Growing up in Africa, Art had to often run barefoot, meaning injuries were frequent. Rather than dwell on his past in self-pity, he has used that experience for so much good.
"As I grew up, I always wanted shoes that would help me to run. As young child in Africa I often had to run barefoot, which is the case with many other children," he says. "Even in America, there are parents and families that have a difficult time to provide good running shoes to their children."
Art began passing down his old running shoes to students in need. He then recruited family and friends to also pass down shoes. Eventually, he began connecting families with places to purchase discounted shoes - but Art goes even further, often purchasing shoes for others.
'I now look at kids' feet to see who needs shoes and go find them a pair. The family tries to ask how much they will need to pay for a pair of hand-me-downs and I just tell them that this pair is free. It is important to me that the kids be able to run in something that is made for running," Art explains.
Nominated as inspiring coach
Earlier this summer, Brooks Running Shoes honored Art as one of its top 25 “Inspiring Coaches” in the nation. As a finalist, Art was awarded $5,000 in Brooks Running Shoes and $500 to cover team expenses.
Art truly is inspiring, but his goal is not to win awards for being an inspiration. He simply wants to make a difference in people's lives.
"It makes me feel happy when kids come to practice happy. I have some kids that have 'graduated' from my program that still find time to come back to my practice whenever they are home on breaks," he says. "My kids inspire me whenever they are doing their best."
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