711 Park Avenue Northwest
Willmar, MN 56201

Miles 4 Mentors Site Icon Logo About

About Us

About Us - Miles 4 Mentors

Miles 4 Mentors is a 501C3 established in Willmar, MN in 2017. Since the beginning, we have been passionate about sharing the love of running and physical fitness and supporting local children and their families. Running has far more benefits than being only a means to improve physical health. It also improves one’s emotional and mental health as well. Running can be done with limited equipment, making it accessible to almost anyone. It helps to clear the mind, manage stress, and spur creative thinking. There is also a great kinship among runners that is built on common interests and shared experiences. Most importantly, running and fitness provide lifelong benefits.

Our dedicated and carefully vetted activity mentors work with the kids to help build this love for the sport, one mile at a time. We have had the opportunity to meet so many incredible kids and families and have seen firsthand the impact that our events and support have on their lives. It has been clear that kids who learn to love physical activity from a young age are healthier, happier, more community-minded, and more successful in school. We hope you will consider supporting us after we share a little more about what we do, and we encourage all local children from grades K-5 to join us for a Fun Run.

Sisters at the Miles 4 Mentors Fun Run. About Us

Our Mission

Our mission is to help the children of West Central Minnesota develop a lifelong love of running and understand the importance of staying physically fit for their bodies, minds, and souls. We strive to make playing sports and participating in activities financially accessible for all.

Miles 4 Mentors Fun Run Events Downtown Wilmar, MN About

Our Vision

Our vision is for communities free from obesity and other physical and mental health ailments, and where every child can afford to participate in sports and obtain the shoes and other equipment needed to succeed. We envision a strong local running community and facilitate community events to foster inclusion, diversity, and belonging. Together, we can run towards a better future for all.

Miles 4 Mentors Fun Run Events Series About

Be a Champion!

Miles 4 Mentors is able to serve our community thanks to our generous donors and dedicated volunteers. Without their efforts, even fewer children would have the opportunity to thrive through physical activity. Children who are provided this opportunity learn basic character-building skills, which allows them to grow and be more productive. The kids we serve are our future, and we do our best to help ensure it is a bright one. We hope you will consider partnering with us and being a champion for local children. Donate today and be a champion!

About Our Team

Miles 4 Mentors is fortunate to have an amazing group of individuals who share our vision and work hard to fulfill our mission. We appreciate them, our donors, volunteers, and especially the kids.

Miles 4 Mentors About President Paul Cool

Paul Cool



Renee Cool


Miles 4 Mentors About Treasurer Samantha VanHeuveln

Samantha Van Heuveln


Miles 4 Mentors About Board Member James Miller

James Miller

Board Member

Miles 4 Mentors About Board Member Melissa Hoffman Bodin

Melissa Hoffman Bodin

Board Member

Miles 4 Mentors About Board Member Pam Vruwink

Pam Vruwink

Board Member

About Us

The Miles 4 Mentors Story

Miles 4 Mentors requires a team effort to experience the level of success we strive for.  We are grateful to, and rely heavily on our board, generous donors, hard-working volunteers, and the kids and families who participate and receive support from our program. However, every story has a beginning, and the Miles 4 Mentors story, begins with our founder and President Paul Cool. 

Paul is a busy man. Along with leading Miles 4 Mentors, he is also a Willmar firefighter and EMT, an avid runner, 2X Ironman, and Marketing Partner for Lakeland Broadcasting. For many years, he wanted and was passionate about starting a nonprofit organization that helped children and their families while promoting the sport he loves. That dream along with his ideas became the seed from which the organization grew. 

Helping Children Grow Healthy

Paul understood the joy, as well as the physical, mental, and emotional benefits running offers. He envisioned an organization that would foster the love of physical fitness in local youth, to carry with them their entire lives. The idea came to offer a “Fun Run Series“, in which kids could experience the excitement and camaraderie of a real race, complete with numbers, shirts, and medals. He knew if kids had a taste of the experience, they would be hooked. 

Paul also realized that many children right here in our area were unable to financially participate in youth sports due to financial constraints. He believed that no child should miss out on youth sports because of funding. Miles 4 Mentors are proud to provide shoes, participation fees, scholarships, and other related financial assistance to families in need. This aligns with our vision to ensure that all area children can participate. 

Miles 4 Mentors officially began in 2017, amid an unthinkable loss. Paul and his wife Renee lost their daughter Autumn to a tragic car accident. Knowing that Autumn would have wanted them to continue building the nonprofit, Paul and Renee put their focus on creating Miles 4 Mentors in her honor. Autumn herself was an athlete, with a love for and participation in dance from age three through high school. The organization continues in her memory today.

Making an Impact

For Paul, the true value of the organization lies in its focus on the health and well-being of children. One of his favorite stories is when a local Miles 4 Mentors family with 5 children who were able to attend swimming lessons approached him at the post office. After being asked if he was the “Miles 4 Mentors guy” they became extremely excited and were incredibly grateful. It is those moments that show how momentous the impact our supporters allow us to make in the lives of children. 

A Bright Future

As the organization looks to the future, Paul hopes to spread the message to even more people in the community, so that everyone knows that if they need financial help to participate in sports and activities, they have a resource. It is one thing to share a story, whether it is about how a nonprofit started, or how a nonprofit made a lasting difference in someone’s life. It is another when that story can inspire others to act. By sharing ours, we hope that our impact only grows, and encourages others to partner with us. We’d love to hear your story too! Please let us know how Miles 4 Mentors have impacted you or someone you care about and let us know if we can share it also.  

Run With Us!

Please use the form below to contact us with all your Miles 4 Mentors questions and comments. A member of our team will be contacting you shortly.

Our sincere Thanks to Southwest Initiative Foundation for Making This Website Possible

Connecting Kids with Life Enriching Opportunities One Mile at a Time

Contact Us


Miles 4 Mentors

711 Park Avenue Northwest
Willmar, MN 56201


Copyright © 2023 – Miles4Mentors.Org