The coronavirus pandemic has upended nearly every aspect of daily life for most Americans, unless you’re an avid runner. Health professionals approve of running, as long as a social distance of six feet is maintained between partners, and even encourage the practice to improve mental and physical health, as well as potential immunity from the novel virus.

Local runners Kaitlyn Johnson, Cate Barrett and Katie Watson are hoping to inspire the Austin running community to use their passion for the greater good by organizing “Miles for Meals,” a fundraiser to benefit the Central Texas Food Bank.

To participate, donate $5 or whatever amount you can through the fundraising website, lace up your shoes and go for a run at 6 a.m. on Friday, March 20. You can share your run on instagram with the hashtag #MilesForMealsATX and tag Johnson at @kayjay1993, Barrett at @beingcate and Watson at @kwatsrun.

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🏃🏻‍♀️MILES FOR MEALS 🍏🍞 Along with my friends Katie and Kaitlyn, I am planning a virtual run THIS FRIDAY to raise money for the Central Texas Food Bank. We’d love for all Austin runners to join us! If you aren’t local, of course feel free to join, or organize a fundraiser in your metro. We are so fortunate to still be able to head out the door for a run. Coronavirus freaks us out too, but we are trying to create some positive action in the face of fear and uncertainty. We know that runners are some of the most badass people out there and we think that you all will be motivated to join us in this mission to support our community. Here’s how you can join: . 💵 1. DONATE Make a donation of any amount to the Central Texas Food Bank (link in profile for our fundraising page). How about donating $1 for every mile you run this week? . 🏃🏽‍♂️2. RUN On Friday, March 20, at 6 a.m., go for a run. How far? How fast? Where to? Up to you. Just run. And don’t go with anyone besides your housemates because #socialdistancing. Yes, it’s early but this is about SOLIDARITY people, something we need more now than ever. . 📸 3. SHARE After your run, post a picture on your feed or story using the hashtag #MilesForMealsATX. I think it’s going to be pretty cool seeing all the runners aligned for the cause. Speaking of the cause… why the food bank? Why now? I’d like to thank Kaitlyn for leading the charge and enlightening me on this one. With Coronavirus spreading to Austin, paychecks diminishing, and schools closing, more and more people are using the food bank’s services. Turns out, the food bank is really good at feeding people, and donating money is the best way we can directly help our community. Just $1 makes 4 meals. Stay tuned for some Instagram live action from our (separate) runs — bring your phone on the run if you are into that, and maybe you too can say hi in the live stream. Let’s use our sport for good. Link in bio.

A post shared by Cate Barrett (@beingcate) on Mar 18, 2020 at 2:48pm PDT

Johnson, a fourth-year graduate student studying biomedical engineering at the University of Texas and working in mathematical modeling in oncology, felt moved to make a difference when she saw how fast the virus was spreading through Italy and realized the United States might be headed toward a similar trajectory.

"It would be unfathomable for someone supporting a family or living paycheck to paycheck [to stockpile groceries for quarantine],“ she said via text message. ”We thought [this fundraiser] would be a small way for people like us who are lucky enough to still get to step out the door and go for a run everyday and potentially still collect paychecks as we work from home, to help virtually.“

Both Barrett and Watson recently competed in the Olympic Trials Marathon in Atlanta, one of the last major competitions to be held before the coronavirus pandemic caused mass cancellations and postponements across the sports world, from the NBA season to the Boston Marathon.

Barrett, who competed in track and field and cross country for Baylor, called her newfound perspective on running “freeing.”

“I think this is actually making my running mental space easier right now,” she said via text message. “I know I got away from my purpose and joy in the last cycle and it affected my performance.”

To participate in Miles for Meals, click here.