I’ve received a number of suggestions for Spotlight articles. One of the first emails I received was a suggestion to feature a charity “Up and Running Again.”
I reached out to Brittany Watrous, the Program Coordinator for Up and Running Again and asked her the simple question, “What is Up and Running Again?”
“We are a Christian non-profit that trains the homeless that reside at rescue missions to complete a half marathon. Through the 13 week training process, they learn dedication towards a goal, gain healthy habits, learn to work with others, and have an overwhelming sense of accomplishment upon completion of the race. They learn they can do so much more than they ever thought possible. It expands the goals they can set for themselves.”
Steve Tierney started Up and Running Again in 2010. A non-runner, Steve set a goal to complete a marathon. After accomplishing his goal and feeling the sense of accomplishment, he thought that training the homeless at The OC Rescue Mission to complete a race would be beneficial and lead to the same sense of accomplishment he felt. Steve felt that helping them meet a goal and feel that sense of achievement would lead to greater things.
From there, he modified the marathon training plan that he used for his first race and adapted it for the half marathon. Currently, they are working with missions in Orange County, Long Beach, San Diego, Las Vegas, Spokane, and Coeur D’Alene. They’ve worked with other missions around the country and are looking to start programs in North Carolina and Florida.
They run very lean with only 2 paid employees, Brittany and Executive Director Greg Clarke.
I asked Brittany for just a few success stories, she said the stories were endless but picked 3 of her favorites:
“The first person that I ran with when I volunteered was Kelley. She was at OC Rescue Mission. She always had a radiant smile and just lit up my morning when I ran with her…I was shocked when I discovered under that spunky personality there was a lot of pain. She had been divorced, had been suicidal, and had lost custody of her kids. I would never have guessed. I watched as she completed her first half marathon and she was so overjoyed! She went on to graduate from the rescue mission recovery program, then she got married and custody of her kids. … When we realized we were going to start a team at the Corona-Norco Rescue Mission, Kelley was our first thought for head coach. She was overjoyed at the chance to give back and coach for URA.”
“I remember Leticia, one of our runners at OC Rescue Mission, got up at the banquet when she received her award and gave an impromptu speech where through tears she talked about how only months before she was in the garage with her son seeing her shooting drugs and now her son was at the banquet and got to see his mom doing something positive with her life.”
“Justin was at the mission and was recovering from an addiction to prescription drugs. He had a very broken past and childhood and went down a tough path. Through URA and the running he was no longer diabetic, lost a lot of weight, and he began to feel good about himself. He ended up doing multiple half marathons with us and leading a team as the coach. Steve and myself ended up training for a full marathon with Justin and ran the Surf City Marathon together. Since then Justin graduated from the mission, got a job, got married, and now has a baby son.”
How to Help
You can click on the above link for a variety of donation options.
I asked Brittany where they need the most help.
One of our largest expenses is paying for race entry fees for the runners. It has been really helpful when we have race directors that will give us discounts or free race entries. We don’t budget at all for mid-season races like 5 or 10k’s, but we found it is helpful to have one mid-season to motivate the runners and give them a first race experience. Fortunately, we’ve been able to do these shorter races in several different seasons because of race directors from companies such as Rock It Racing and Triple Dare Racing donating the entries.
We also have to budget for the banquet we have the night before the race. We allow runners to invite family or friends so they can recognize the hard work. We have a pasta meal, give out awards, and have an inspirational speaker. Help at the banquet such as restaurants that will donate the meal, people to make table centerpieces or serve, and volunteers making desserts are just a few of the areas we need help.
Halfway through the program we give runners that meet attendance requirements a brand new pair of shoes. We’ve had various shoe sponsors over the years such as Skechers, Asics, Brooks, and Lalo that have helped us provide these.
She also says that some of their most valuable donations are time. Volunteers are always needed to help with training, to man water stations during their Saturday long runs. One volunteer cooks a pancake breakfast after their long run. If you want to volunteer you can contact Up and Running Again through their contact form.
I am hopeful that this article will be seen by race officials, and that it leads to an increase in volunteers and donations to this very worthy charity.
If you know an individual or organization that you feel is worthy of ‘The Spotlight’ please send an email to email@example.com.