Alexandria, VA – In the halls of Alexandria City High School, people are buzzing with excitement. Kids, parents, and volunteers are decked out in Lyles foundation shirts, full of pride and anticipation before Noah Lyles competes in round 1 of the 200m dash in the Tokyo Olympics – an event he’s favored in.
How did he do?
Well, Lyles certainly didn’t disappoint, easily blazing past the competition to win his heat as a large crowd rejoiced in the ACHS auditorium.
It capped off a rather fun-filled day, complete with track races for the kids and a raffle – with the grand prize being a pair of running spikes signed by both brothers. All proceeds went towards the Lyles Brothers Sports Foundation, a non-profit that helps promote health and well-being among young athletes in local communities.
Noah’s mom, Keisha, and brother, Josephus, an elite sprinter in his own right, were among those present and spoke about the foundation’s origins. “Noah, Josephus, and I wanted to do something to help with youth sports,” said Keisha, “so we decided to start our foundation to empower youth through health and wellness and athletics…We want them to know that they’re more than athletes – they are human beings.” This is why the Lyles Foundation is so special; they care about the whole athlete – both mentally and physically.
When it comes to sports, mental health has often been neglected, but recently, it has been thrust into the spotlight at these Olympic games thanks to gymnast Simone Biles, who withdrew from several events because of her mental state. Biles is breaking down the stigma, and the Lyles foundation is too, helping educate young kids about the topic.
“Something that our mom instilled is us early is that mental health is important,” says Josephus, “You can be in the best shape of your life, but if you’re not mentally ready, or mentally strong, or just mentally prepared to run fast, then it’s a lot harder to do so.”
To think that these two kids, who grew up in the city of Alexandria, went from wearing mis-matched uniforms at track meets, to now sporting the famed red, white, and blue, is amazing.
As Josephus returned to his roots yesterday, and stood in the halls of ACHS, he reflected on how his local community geared him and Noah for success. “[ACHS] definitely propelled us forward and gave us a platform; a road for our vision to go on.”
The two brothers have come a long way since their ACHS days and currently live, and train in Clermont, Florida, where the Lyles brothers built a house together. They’re incredibly close, and while they don’t live in Alexandria anymore, it’s evident that they haven’t forgotten the community that helped their dreams become reality.
That’s why countless Alexandrians are so enthusiastic about the organization, like volunteer Sharon Hennessee. When asked why she joined the foundation, she simply said, “They give back. The foundation is about giving back to the community that gave so much to them.”
Anyone wanting to help continue the Lyles Brothers vision can donate to the Lyles Foundation at https://lylesfoundation.org/donations/general/.