LUBBOCK, Texas — A Midland man celebrated his 60th birthday by doing his favorite thing this week — running, and running far. Nopporn ‘Popcorn’ Leonard ran 60 miles on his 60th birthday while raising money for an important cause inspired by the pandemic.
“I just feel like I need to do my part giving back to the community,” said Leonard.
Leonard has raced in two marathons a year since he was 38-years-old. However, when the pandemic hit, that wasn’t possible.
“I was training for Boston Marathon and it got canceled due to Coronavirus, of course,” said Leonard. “So I was looking for something to do after that.”
He saw on the news that there was a long line at his local food bank right at the start of the pandemic. Realizing how big that need was, he decided to do something to give back.
“So I was like, Well, you know what? So my birthday, eight days before my birthday, I decided I’m gonna run 59 miles and try to collect money for West Texas Food Bank,” said Leonard.
He raised $2,059 for them in 2020. Now a year later, on his 60th birthday, he decided to do the same.
“Of course it was not about me running,” said Leonard. “My goal was to raise money. And I think I did a little over $2,100.”
Leonard has also run with the West Texas Run Club, who give back to nonprofits often as well.
“We’re just always trying to tie in different aspects, we want to make sure that people see all different parts of Lubbock and the surrounding communities when they run,” said Jonathan Botros, President of West Texas Run Club.
Botros said that seeing one of their members organize this was inspiring.
“The fact that it was important to him to tie in the charitable aspect, it just shows you the type of person he is and the type of people we have in West Texas,” said Botros. “And so it’s just, it’s just incredible to see.”
Leonard said that he plans to make this a tradition, adding a mile to his birthday run each year.
He encourages others to find what they love and pursue it wholeheartedly — it’s his secret to success.
“Love what you do, do what you love, put your heart into it,” said Leonard. “Find that enjoyment and go do it. Do it with a passion, do with your heart. And most of all, do it with joy, or otherwise it’s not gonna work out.”