Meet Brandon: a 23-year-old crushing marathon records for kids around the world

Pencils of Promise
January 23, 2018

Brandon LaBella is not your average 23-year-old, campaigner or marathon-runner, for that matter. He is the ultimate adventurer, a sheer go-getter and a relentless competitor who continuously sets unimaginable goals to strive for and achieve.

Just before the highly-anticipated 2017 New York City Marathon, which Brandon was planning on taking on by storm, he injured both his MCL and ACL during a soccer practice. The injury absolutely devastated Brandon, who at the time had been intensely training to run his very first marathon in under three hours and 30 minutes (no easy feat). At that point, absolutely nothing was going to derail him from completing the marathon—not even an extreme injury.

So, logical post-injury next step: google search ‘fastest marathon on crutches.’

Instead of dropping out of the race, which many would have rightfully done, Brandon decided to fight through with even more ambitious goals. He began his training and after reaching a maximum distance of three miles ran prior to the marathon, he thought he would never be able to make it across the finish line. Nonetheless, November 5th rolled along and Brandon persevered, breaking the all-time record for a runner with the use of two legs on crutches in a marathon. He completed the race in 6 hours, 19 minutes and 21 seconds (previously, the record was 6:24:48).

Brandon was first introduced to Pencils of Promise through one of his role models and life inspirations, Lewis Howes. He listened to a podcast in which Lewis interviewed PoP’s founder, Adam Braun, which led him to make his first donation to PoP. Brandon then went on to read Adam’s book The Promise of a Pencil and was immediately blown away and inspired to do even more. With just one spot remaining on Pencils of Promise’s marathon team, he knew he had to seize the opportunity and join. He has since raised over $3,400 in the name of quality education—and we are honored to have him by our side!

Leading up to race day, thoughts of The Promise of a Pencil ran through Brandon’s mind. Thoughts of the 250 MILLION kids around the world who cannot read or write. Thoughts of PoP’s mission of bringing quality education to as many kids as possible, no matter where they are in the world or what resources they may have.

“At mile 4, I knew I had a chance…As I ran the last 2 miles through the beautiful Central Park, it was a storybook ending as I glanced up 100 feet from the finish line to find out I was 5 minutes ahead of World Record pace. What a day to be alive!”

Brandon’s next adventure will take him to Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain, which he’ll be climbing this upcoming summer for Pencils of Promise with Choose A Challenge.

Thank you, Brandon for your fierce spirit and for your dedication to unlocking the promise of more kids around the world through quality education. #PoPFam


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

Interested in learning more about opportunities to participate in Choose A Challenge treks with PoP? Email