He was the first Black man to run a sub-4:00 mile. Now he’s leading the next generation.

CHARLOTTE — As a young child in Cincinnati, Reggie McAfee had a knack for running, long before he knew where it would eventually take him.

“I remember when I was like five or six just enjoying running in general,” he said.

The people around him noticed something more.

“I think the spark that really hit me was when someone encouraged me at the end of a competition. He used these words, he said, ‘One day, you’re going to be a great runner,’” McAfee told Channel 9′s DaShawn Brown.

McAfee would later become a three-time national champion while he running for Brevard College. He later solidifed his place in history when he became the first Black man to run the mile in under four minutes.

“It’s more than the personal goal to me,” McAfee told Brown. “It had to do with breaking barriers and stereotypes. I just knew that I was committed to not only making sure that I won the race, but I sent a message.”

Now in Charlotte, McAfee founded Cross-Country for Youth, integrating health and fitness with life lessons.

He’s also the honorary starter for the inaugural Meck Mile on May 25. It’s a race that invites everyone to complete a mile, whether they’re seasoned runners or first-timers.

>>In the video at the top of this story, McAfee shares how running impacted his mission to help others.

(WATCH: Charlotte Marathon raises nearly $500,000 for Hemby Children’s Hospital)

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