Health & Wellness

A Running Start

Nonprofit Back on My Feet empowers community through running.

Many people compare life to a marathon, with its highs, lows, goals, and obstacles. At Back on My Feet, the national organization that works to combat homelessness through running and community support, this metaphor rings true.

BoMF Baltimore recruits participants from residential recovery facilities like Christopher’s Place and the Helping Up Mission, and, along with dozens of volunteers, helps members restore confidence, strength, and self-esteem so they are better prepared to move onto a new and healthy lifestyle. Three days a week at 5:30 a.m., members and volunteers come together as a team to run various distances with one very important rule: No one runs alone.

“One of the best things about Back on My Feet is that you would never know at the start or finish line who has a home and who doesn’t,” says Sydney Van Horn, development and marketing coordinator for BoMF Baltimore. “Our members are the lifeblood of our organization. They are the reason we get up and do what we do. Their energy is infectious and they have personally taught me so much about life, and being physically and mentally strong in the face of hardships.”

After the first 30 days in the program, members with a 90 percent attendance rate move into the second phase, where they are offered educational support, job training, employment referrals, and housing resources. BoMF also provides running gear for its members who reach certain milestones. More than 80 percent of the participants will make it to the second phase, with some even setting larger goals and planning for races like the Baltimore Marathon on Oct. 15. For Marc Morgan, an alumni of the program and a member of Team Christopher’s Place, this will be his first half-marathon.

“I’m excited about this opportunity to run my first marathon. It means a lot to me,” he says. “[Back on My Feet] is the best thing that has happened to me in my 51 years of life, and I can say that wholeheartedly.”