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ING Names Winners of 'ING Run For Something Better' Student Essay Contest

Metro Atlanta middle school children write about benefits of running; top essayists honored at luncheon Friday before ING Georgia Marathon

ATLANTA, March 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Financial services leader ING today selected three winners of a student essay contest. The essay winners chronicled their accomplishments as participants in the ING Run For Something Better running program in metro Atlanta public middle schools.

The top three essays were submitted by the following students:

  • Erwin Dukes, Sammye E Coan Middle School, 7th grade
  • Jarleel Earby, McNair Middle School, 8th Grade
  • Michael Starr, Ridgeview Charter School, 6th grade

The contest was open to students in 26 middle schools of Atlanta Public Schools, Fulton County and Decatur Middle School who have been participating in the program and were challenged to run 13.1 miles over 9 weeks in their P.E. classes. All students are invited to complete the "final mile" of their cumulative half marathon Sunday, March 29, at 11:30 a.m. during the ING Georgia Marathon & Half Marathon. The kids will run a special race and get the thrill of crossing the same finish line as the adults. Transportation, lunches, T-shirts, finisher medals and entertainment are provided to students at the event.

"We know that children are learning many positive lessons through ING Run For Something Better, not only about staying healthy and fit, but also about setting goals and working hard to achieve them," said Rhonda Mims, president, ING Foundation and senior vice president, Office of Corporate Responsibility and Multicultural Affairs. "Sponsoring an essay contest was a fantastic way to hear from the students in metro Atlanta in their very own words how the program is helping them."

As part of the essay contest, students explained what they liked best about ING Run For Something Better. They were asked to describe how running makes them feel, what they learned about fitness and exercise, who inspired them to be healthy and how they planned to stay fit after completing their half marathon. ING staff selected the top three winners. Each student is invited to attend a special ING Run For Something Better teacher appreciation luncheon on Friday, March 27.

"For the past three years, ING Run For Something Better has served as a great complement to our physical education curriculum," said Billette Owens-Ashford, director of Physical Education and Athletics for Atlanta Public Schools. "Through this essay contest, we're realizing that students are encouraging their parents and family members to stay fit. This tells us that the program can be a positive influence both in the classroom and at home."

ING Run For Something Better was introduced three years ago in metro Atlanta when ING became title sponsor of the ING Georgia Marathon & Half Marathon. Last year, more than 1,500 middle school students took part in ING Run For Something Better, with over 700 finishing their final mile on race day. More than 1,500 students are expected to complete the program at this year's ING Georgia Marathon & Half Marathon.

As the sponsor of a number of premier running events in the U.S., ING has been encouraging young people to get physically fit. ING developed ING Run For Something Better in 2003 as a way to give back to local communities. The national campaign provides funding for free, school-based running programs while teaching kids about the benefits of exercise and healthy lifestyle choices.

In the fall of 2006, ING also created the Orange Laces program -- a public, fundraising campaign that encourages everyone to join the cause. When someone donates $10 or more, ING gives them a pair of orange shoelaces to show they are "tied" to kids' fitness. One hundred percent of the net proceeds from Orange Laces donations go directly to ING Run For Something Better fitness programs.

Since the initiative began, more than 40,000 children have participated in programs funded by ING Run For Something Better. Young people in these programs have collectively run more than 1.2 million miles. In metro Atlanta, ING Run For Something Better and the Orange Laces campaign has contributed over $200,000 to fund running programs in Atlanta Public Schools, Fulton County and Decatur.

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About ING

ING is a global financial institution of Dutch origin offering banking, investments, life insurance and retirement services to over 85 million residential, corporate and institutional clients in more than 40 countries. With a diverse workforce of about 125,000 people, ING is dedicated to setting the standard in helping our clients manage their financial future.

In the U.S., the ING (NYSE: ING) family of companies offers a comprehensive array of financial services to retail and institutional clients, which includes life insurance, retirement plans, mutual funds, managed accounts, alternative investments, direct banking, institutional investment management, annuities, employee benefits, financial planning, and reinsurance. ING holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves over 29 million customers across the nation.

ING's diversity management philosophy and commitment to workforce diversity, diversity marketing, corporate citizenship and supplier diversity fosters an inclusive environment for employees that supports a distinctive product and service experience for the financial services consumer.

For more information, visit

About the ING Run For Something Better

The ING Run For Something Better is a fundraising campaign that supports community and school-based youth running programs. Linked to ING's long-distance race sponsorships, the program was created to introduce kids to the benefits of sport, a habit of physical fitness, and a healthy lifestyle that prevents conditions such as childhood obesity. In today's world of poor nutrition and less-active lifestyles -- which may contribute to childhood obesity -- ING is using its position as a sponsor of marathons as a platform for helping kids get fit through free, school-based running programs. Nationally, ING has committed over $2.5 million to fund grants and school-based running programs through ING Run For Something Better. Since 2006, over a half a million dollars has been raised by individual donors through the orange laces program. ING has also created a special charitable fund to encourage others to support the cause by making their own contribution. When someone donates $10 or more to the ING Run For Something Better, ING will recognize their contribution by giving them a special pair of orange shoelaces to wear showing that they are "tied" to supporting kids' fitness. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of orange laces go to the ING Run For Something Better fitness programs.

For more information about the orange laces, go to

About the ING Foundation

The ING Foundation's mission is to improve the quality of life in the communities where ING operates and its employees and customers live. Through charitable giving and employee volunteerism, the foundation focuses on sustainable programs in the areas of financial literacy, children's education and diversity.

For more information, visit

About the ING Georgia Marathon & Half Marathon

The 2009 ING Georgia Marathon & Half Marathon, to be held on Sunday, March 29, is Georgia's picturesque, springtime, neighborhood-based distance combo event. Beginning at Centennial Olympic Park, it will travel through 26.2 miles (and 13.1 miles for the half marathon) of Metro Atlanta area's most interesting and historic areas including the Sweet Auburn District, Inman Park, Midtown, Downtown and the city of Decatur. Along the way it will pass landmarks including the King Center, and Carter Center, before returning to Centennial Olympic Park for the finish. A limit of 15,000 registrations will be accepted for the 2009 ING Georgia Marathon & Half Marathon. The event is managed by US Road Sports of Georgia and owned by its parent company, US Road Sports & Entertainment Group. More information is available at

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