Posted: Sun October 6, 2013 12:03PM; Updated: Sun October 6, 2013 12:03PM

Sean Penn to sponsor Haitian runners at NYC Marathon

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Sean Penn's relief organization J/P HRO will sponsor five Haitian runners in this year's NYC Marathon.
Sean Penn's relief organization J/P HRO will sponsor five Haitian runners in this year's NYC Marathon.
Andres Leighton/AP

NEW YORK (AP) Sean Penn is ecstatic that his relief organization will sponsor runners from Haiti to participate in the New York City Marathon next month.

"We've got five Haitian runners, 10 runners total, running for the team representing Haiti and our organization J/P HRO coming to the New York City Marathon - the marathon. So we're really looking forward to it," Penn said.

The 53-year old actor, who spoke to The Associated Press on Saturday night, expressed satisfaction that the organization continues to rebuild Haiti with its medical, relocation, structural and community development programs -but also that it brings hope to the island nation.

"It's rewarding. I just came back from Port-au-Prince, where I visited our Haitian marathon runners, and to see that great discipline that Haitians have and that great spirit and the excitement that they have visiting New York for the first time."

Penn started the J/P Health Relief Organization after a catastrophic magnitude-7.0 earthquake ripped through Haiti in January 2010, killing more than 100,000 people. The organization set up camps for displaced residents and facilitated medical clinics. It continues to save lives and brings sustainable programs to benefit the nation. Penn acts as CEO and chairman of the board for the organization.

When asked if his efforts to make a meaningful and lasting impact in Haiti made him proud, Penn responded: "I've got a group I'm very proud of and really inspired by. Let's say I've been granted a fortunate ticket in."

The two-time Oscar-winning actor made the comments at the world premiere of his film "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" at the New York Film Festival. Penn stars alongside writer-director Ben Stiller.

The 26-mile New York Marathon takes place Nov. 3.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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