Joel Runyon: The 777 project

Meet Joel Runyon, a blogger, fitness expert and believer in all things possible, who is campaigning to build seven (7!) PoP schools.

We call some of our supporters “the impossible ones” for their willingness to take on seemingly impossible challenges to raise funds to build the next PoP school. No one better encompasses this mantra than Joel Runyon, a campaigner who already ran an ultra marathon to build a PoP school in Guatemala in 2012. Now Joel is back with an even more “impossible” campaign — as if one ultra marathon wasn’t enough!

Joel is currently leading the 777 Project, an initiative he created where he’ll run 7 ultra marathons on 7 continents in order to raise money and awareness to build 7 schools. You read that right — 7 ultra marathons (we’re tired just thinking about it)!

He was inspired to campaign for PoP because he “liked both the challenge of doing something he had never done before, but also the ability to be able to create possibilities for people who would never otherwise have them.”

“I think there’s a responsibility to create possibilities for others in order to help them do things they’ve never dreamed before,” Joel said. “I believe that by empowering people through education, we can help do that.”

Joel was able to visit the first school he helped build in Guatemala, an experience that he described as dramatic and impactful:

“The day we visited was a downpour and after a 3 hour, off-road trip to the school we arrived. The older building stood in contrast to the bright yellow, brand new PoP school. The difference that PoP made couldn’t have been more drastic, but it wasn’t just the color of the building that made the difference. The small features that made education possible on a rainy day were very apparent.

While the PoP school cleanly drained away the water from the roof, the old school building had no drainage system and let water pool up on the sidewalk and leak into the classrooms. While the noise was deafening in the old school house with the aluminum roof, the special roofing on the PoP school made it easy to hear the teacher and make learning possible.

When the old schoolhouse didn’t have electricity, it was very dark and hard to make out much of anything on the papers or the chalkboard. But the PoP school had big open windows that let in light and let students be able to see their work.

On paper, I knew about the work that PoP did and all the things they did to improve education access & create possibilities for students, but it was many times more impactful to see it in person.”

It’s no surprise that Joel’s motto is the Nelson Mandela quote, “it’s always impossible until it’s done.” He’s already run one of the 7 planned races and continues to serve as an inspiration for the PoP community, let alone anyone facing a challenge. As the founder of Impossible, Joel is committed to building resources and tools that help people push themselves past their limits and do things that actually scare them. With 1 school down and 6 to go, we have no doubt that Joel will achieve his “impossible” goal and continue to embody the true spirit of PoP along the way!


Our PoP family is always growing. We’d love for you to join us.

Visit Joel’s campaign page: