Virginie Goethals, Co-Founder, Managing Director
I am originally from Belgium, am a lawyer, ultra-runner and the mother of three kids. Together with Brenda, we founded RUN (formerly Free to Run) in October 2015, and have not stopped since. With the support of our fantastic team of volunteers, I manage the sports’ programmes on a day-to-day basis, coordinate emergency support and lead the fundraising. I participate in all the sporting activities, which I enjoy the most. Baking up to 10 cakes a week for our participants is also on my to-do list!
The best moments at RUN are the smiles and twinkles in the eyes of the refugees when they hit a summit, pass a race finish line or beat their running personal best. When they join us, they only have their dignity left, but I love it when their smiles and cheerfulness show that they have regained hope for the future. Tai Tam reservoir and the Twins are our playground every Tuesday. So many refugees have reached fitness milestones there, therefore it is a very special place for us.
My grandfather was a refugee from Hungary and was forced to live without status for many years in Belgium, after surviving Russian gulags. He had a very special kindness and strength that I can identify in many of our programme participants, which humbles me to the bone. His way of recovery was spending time outside in nature or swimming. I think he somehow led me to where I am now. When I’m not volunteering with RUN, I try to train a bit for myself in between baking and organising the programme!