I first noticed Kendra Lopez; a Fresno native, Fresno State and FIDM alum, when KSEE 24 ran a story on 9372 Run, a local running community based in downtown Fresno. Turns out she was a key factor in making that happen.
Lopez came back up to Fresno about a year and a half ago after spending nearly a decade in the Pico-Union neighborhood immediately west of Downtown Los Angeles. In the last few months Kendra has started her own running group, Fresno Art Run which recently partnered up with The 559 Mural Project, created Central Valley Community Cookouts— a community cookout inspired by Heleo Leyva, was selected to become a brand ambassador for Brooks Running “Run Happy Team” for 2021, and set up a personal creative outlet called My Day In Fresno.
During her time in L.A. Kendra wore many hats; a student at FIDM, retail worker, cleaning AirBnB’s, brand ambassador, visual merchandiser at Macy’s, marketing coordinator for a large Kombucha brand— and in 2011 discovered the “DTLA Running Group” through Meetup.com which she helped grow by hosting an additional night introducing a “snails pace” group option for new runners to ease them in at a pace that was comfortable for them. On top of that, Lopez was taking photos and helping run the group’s Instragram account, organized social events to bring everyone together, and was a main leader of contact for information on all things DTLA for people new to the area and for those visiting. Additionally, on the non-profit, front Kendra helped launch the Team Homeboy Industry Back On My Feet chapter in L.A. and knows first hand how running can create a community that offers compassion, hope, and the empowerment of individuals.
Coming Back to Fresno
What prompted you to come back to Fresno?
I felt like I experienced everything I needed to, I was in starting my 30’s and really just wanted to be close to home and slow down a bit! I needed to gather myself and understand what my new evolving identity would be and how I could use my skills in my hometown!
What do you hope to accomplish in Fresno?
Just really expose all that we have to offer whether it’s our running culture or unraveling how unique it is and share it with others. And hopefully really share my insights and background to help elevate the conversation whether in marketing the running community involvement and be a resource to others!
Fresno Art Run
What is/what birthed Fresno Art Run? & when did it begin?
Fresno Art Run started September 3rd by running to the “Fresno Proud” mural specifically starting on the east side to show the community that we can run/walk into downtown to see art.
What is FAR’s goal?
Exploring different pockets of Fresno with the goal to promote health and wellness while exploring Art (murals/architecture/churches/landmarks).
Central Valley Community Cookouts
Inspired by Heleo Leyva, Central Valley Community Cookouts is a community driven movement aiming to provide a hot gratitude meal to essential farmworkers as a way to thank them for their hard work.
In its inaugural event that took place early December of last year in rural Selma they were able to provide 150 meals, PPE, socks, beanies, clothing donations, and resources for health coverage.
When it came to gathering items like hats and gloves for the cold weather, Lopez says she posted a call to action on social media. She also partnered with Ricardo Castorena from [Binational Central California], an organization that provides education on COVID along with PPE to farm workers in the Valley (Bolanos). Another notable mention, Castorena takes on a large role with MLTV Movimiento Latino, who’s focus is to entertain the central valley and promote awareness to those that don’t often receive the resources necessary to thrive in our society
CVCC’s goal is to have 4-6 cookouts from a grassroots efforts in rural towns that are underserved.
A third cookout has already been scheduled to take place on Friday Feb. 26th in Del Rey
We had a generous vendor who sold Tamales to fundraise for two causes she believed in. She donated half of her proceeds to the next cookout. Since she is from the small town of Del Rey I worked with our contact to make it happen in Del Rey. Community giving back to community and I’m just the connecting piece that will pull it all together.
At this time, CVCC is the only satellite of Leyva’s Community Cookouts which is originally based in East Hollywood.
What is your connection to Brooks?
I started wearing Brooks 5 years ago. I love the styles and I feel they provide the most comfort and support for me.
I fell in love more with them when I ran the New York City marathon and seen that they did a exclusive show design for Des Linden, a badass female runner.
What does it mean to be a part of the Run Happy Team?
I seen the “Run Happy” opportunity in October and was so inspired that they are looking for runners to share the brand and be a part of the Run Happy Team nationwide.
I applied and didn’t think anything about it until I found out after Christmas.
For me Run Happy is sharing my happiness for running and art here in the valley. Putting Fresno and all that we have here and sharing it. Showing that we can run in areas not common and explore with others.
What do you like most/appreciate most about Brooks?
Being that the pandemic was tough on a lot of us I felt that if running can make you feel a little normal do it. Show how happy and good you feel by having the opportunity/space to explore art locally and push yourself and feel better!
I appreciate how inclusive Brooks is. As a female Latina in her 30’s not typically seen as a commercial runner they are investing in runners that are shaking up things in communities all over the country! Having an opportunity to identify with fellow runners of all backgrounds really inspires me to in return “not be pushy of the brand to others” but have a genuine conversation of how I relate and love the brand!
As a creative, what are your creative goals for 2021?
As a creative I hope to really learn how to use a professional camera. I’ve had the opportunity to capture the city on a run and would love to work on a couple of projects that are a representation of Fresno. Hoping to take some of my iPhone 6 shots to print to showcase some historic images that may no longer exist due to the gradual changes of the city.
My creative goal. Would be collaborate locally to see if we can see a “movement mural” that is representative of health and wellness in Fresno. So many people walk, run, bike I would love to see a mural representing the time of change. To encourage others to get active.
You have a wonderful idea for a non-profit. What is it?
Have a running group similar to the “Back on My Feet” chapter here in Fresno. With the Poverello House, Union Rescue Mission, or US Vets. If not something similar to the model.
It uses running to help members transition from homelessness, addiction, or other issues. It helps people through health and wellness and provide a structure as they go through their specific programs. Giving them the skills and confidence to work on their health and wellness while being accountable and learning along the way!
A Message From Kendra Lopez
“If you could experience your town on foot. See what local businesses exist, share your finds with your community. Inspire your kids, and youth that it could be cool to get active and enjoy safely all that we have around.
If you left and came back and learned something share it with the town that raised you. You’d be surprised how much of a difference you could make whether big or small. Keep on pushing, and reaching. If it does not exist create it. It only takes one person to show up.”
Bolanos, M. (2020, December 04). LA Street vendor Brings COMMUNITY Cookout to San Joaquin Valley farm workers. Retrieved February 22, 2021, from https://www.kvpr.org/post/la-street-vendor-brings-community-cookout-san-joaquin-valley-farm-workers#stream/0