New Yorker of the Week: Leland Yu

Step by step, Leland Yu promotes the well-being of walkers and Chinatown. We met him one evening when he was usually running. That night, he took his time with the people who keep him going.

“It’s a growing community of runners that I didn’t anticipate,” Yu said.

What do you want to know

  • Leland Yu is the founder of Run for Chinatown, a group that organizes weekly runs around Chinatown and Lower Manhattan.
  • Yu ran for Chinatown for the first time in 2020 to raise money for struggling businesses in the neighborhood. In 12 hours, he ran over 60 miles and raised $25,000
  • Monday evening races are open to everyone. Above all, he hopes it shows that Asians have a place on the racetrack.

Yu is the founder of Run for Chinatown. It started two years ago after losing his job as a cook due to COVID. And his neighborhood was sinking under the pressure of the pandemic.

“Businesses were suffering,” Yu recalls. “The streets were empty. Morale was extremely low.”

Yu had recently taken up running, so he set himself a personal challenge: run for 12 hours and get his friends and family to donate a dollar for every kilometer run. The money would go to an organization helping to keep businesses in Chinatown afloat. Welcome to Chinatown has paid struggling restaurants to cook meals for frontline workers.

“Nobody knew how far I was going to go,” Yu said. “Me neither until the end. And people were like, ‘Hey Leland. I didn’t know you were going to go this far.'”

Yu ran 61 miles and raised $25,000.

It worked so well the first time that he did it again. He ran over 60 extra miles and raised an additional $25,000 for organizations building the neighborhood.

Increasingly popular, Yu launched a weekly running group last year. Riders split into groups based on their abilities and race their way through Chinatown and Lower Manhattan. The group is open to everyone, but Yu is especially proud to encourage Asian New Yorkers to show up.

“I didn’t see any Asian face in running growing up, so part of my personal mission is to be that Asian face or to be an Asian face that you see running a marathon,” he said. he declares.

Yu knows that running can help people physically and mentally.

“Maybe I’ll never know the magnitude of the changes we’re actually making here,” he said. “But if I can change the life of one person, two people, I will be happy.”

To keep Chinatown moving, Leland Yu is our New Yorker of the Week.

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