Enrico Laing & CoffeeRun

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“My name is Enrico Laing, Jr., I go by Rico, and I live with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). Growing up, sickle cell impacted my life vastly. I did not know many other people with SCD, and at times, I felt very isolated. As an athlete, having asthma compounded with SCD made my experience with sports a lot harder. My family was always there to support me and provide any assistance they could.

Living with sickle cell while navigating school and career is not an easy task. Oftentimes, I find myself taking pain medications to get through the day or to take my exams. In the past, I never informed work or school about my condition. If I were in extreme pain, I would use a sick day or two to gather myself. Currently, my job is aware that I have SCD as they have participated in the 5K fundraiser for Sickle Cell Awareness that I host. Fortunately, I have the ability to work from home, which allows me to manage my pain from home and find time to get my work done from my home office.

SCD has not impacted my career aspirations as I have been able to strive and perform. I truly developed a sense of mental toughness to stay calm and produce through the pain I may be experiencing. Additionally, to stay well and healthy, I constantly drink water to hydrate, and I have built a great rapport with my hematologist. I have routine appointments twice a year, as well as receive IV rehydration therapy during the change in seasons.”

Sick Cells: How did you start CoffeeRun?

Enrico: CoffeeRun was founded in July of 2018. CoffeeRun is a marketing company that uses coffee and coffee-related products to unify individuals who are in pursuit of personal excellence. The very first CoffeeRun took place on Newbury St in Boston, MA. I had the idea of turning empty loft spaces into pop-up coffee shops. The morning would start with a 5K run, then transition into the pop-up with midday jazz, coffee, and food. The event creates an environment for people to socialize and network. After a few successful events, the COVID-19 pandemic happened, and I had to find a way to pivot. At this time, I created the online store, developed my own CoffeeRun Coffee beans, and began to build my social media presence. I expanded our product lines as well as began to partner with other platforms to expand our visibility.

The idea of CoffeeRun came to me while I was in grad school. Many times, we would say, “I’m going on a CoffeeRun,” and that experience could turn into many things. People use coffee shops for meetings, interviews, to socialize, and to work. You never know how a CoffeeRun can change your life. I wanted to create an experience and platform to bring these interactions to life. The very beginning stages of the company started with collaborating with PYNRS, a performance streetwear running company. I focused on coffee and networking, and PYNRS focused on building a run community. Today, CoffeeRun partners with a number of organizations to further its mission of bringing people together for potentially life-changing experiences.

Sick Cells: What was your inspiration behind CoffeeRun?

Enrico: In the past, CoffeeRun conducted networking events that partnered with run crews and had not tied the CoffeeRun community to a cause. In 2022, when I decided to build an event around a cause, SCD was a natural fit. I was introduced to Sick Cells, which has a national focus on sickle cell advocacy, and immediately felt eager to help. I started a 5K fundraiser for sickle cell awareness, partnered with the PYNRS run crew to host the run, and secured an event space for networking. The event took place inside the House of Blues in Fenway. We recently concluded our 2nd annual 5K fundraiser, with more than 120 people participating, raising over $14,000 cumulatively.

Sick Cells: What’s one thing you want to share with our audience?

Enrico: One thing I want the world to know about me is how precious time is. Time is free but priceless, we can choose to spend it wisely. It is one of the most valuable lessons I learned through my experience with SCD. CoffeeRun is about maximizing time and being productive with the time we have.

There have been a lot of strides made with SCD as far as awareness and the passing of legislation to help further funding and research. This gives me hope and a true sense of pride as I try to do my part in spreading awareness.

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