Archive for the Features category

Residential Member of the Month: Andrew W.


SoBo Team Leader Jared points out Andrew W.

Andrew W. joined Team SoBo in February 2013.  He recalls his best moments since joining the team as the first miles he ran with the whole team and his recent relay race at the Nikia Half Marathon and Relay.  He says he is challenged to continue running and would like to run a 10K in the next three months.  When he’s running, Andrew thinks about not stopping and giving his attention to whoever he is running with, which he finds helps him not think about the running.  His next race will be the MCVET 5K in a few weeks.

“Andrew has been excited about Back on My Feet since day one. His enthusiasm is certainly present at 5:30 am circles and there’s no doubt he’s the reason that some non-res members come out and run. You can tell from his competitive spirit that he wants to keep improving and that’s evident in his attitude week in and week out. If that’s not enough, you can always count on him to keep things light-hearted.” – Jared Rigler, Team Leader

Non-Residential Member of the Month: Ryan C.


Ryan C. with his fiancé Ali

Ryan C. started running with Back on My Feet in August 2010.  Last October, he celebrated running his first full marathon with the team, which he calls his best moment with Back on My Feet.  Ryan says, “Running is therapeutic. I try not to think too hard while running.”  His next race will be the Back on my Feet AT&T Sneaks Come Out at Night Presented by Thomas’ in August followed soon after by the inaugural Charles Street 12 Miler.  After his races, he likes to drink chocolate milk and enjoy the runner’s high from a great workout.

ʺRyan has been a rock in Team SoBo’s transition from two teams to one last July. For example, he circles up several times a week and is always willing to run out of his comfort zone. You can always count on Ryan for the ‘stuff off the pavement’ – donating items for pasta/party pot lucks, bringing goodies to the circle for birthdays, and the numerous core roles he’s held over the last few years and in his new position as Alumni Services Core.ʺ – Jared Rigler, Team Leader

Terrence on ice

Terrence Robinson has served as the Team Captain of the MCVET team ever since his teammates nominated him last August. Although Terrence’s work and school responsibilities sometimes prevent him from running with the BoMF team in the morning, he usually takes the time to circle up with his teammates for a few minutes before they start running. On these days, he playfully reports his distance as 0.1 miles – the distance from MCVET to the BoMF circle that gathers across the street.

When Terrence is out, he coaxes his fellow runners up hills and distracts them with carefree banter about his adolescent son who runs track. He consistently encourages his teammates, which he appreciated during his first race: the MCVET 5k last May. The former MCVET Team Leader paced Terrence during the race, yet Terrence knew the Team Leader could have easily outrun him. The dedication and camaraderie this action displayed struck Terrence and enabled him to realize that BoMF is about supporting others as they move their lives forward from homelessness to self-sufficiency.

Terrence is pleased with the ways his accomplishments are leading him toward self-sufficiency, especially his recent promotion toSecurity Staff at MCVET. While his new position still requires him to log his activities like a Vet Guard, he will now report to the Chief of Security and be solely responsible for the safety of every person in the building during his shift. This means that Terrence will be responsible for remedying emergency situations and for resolving conflicts that arise between MCVET residents.

Soon, Terrence plans to move into Single Room Occupancy (SRO), the final phase of the recovery program at MCVET. He happily says that this move “will allow me the good fortune of becoming an alumni of BoMF.” He’s also considering running the Nikia Half Marathon or joining a relay team in April. He says it depends on his schedule and ability to fit in training with his responsibilities for his recovery, school, and work. By August, Terrence plans to add 18 months clean and sober to his list of accomplishments and to complete the Commercial Industrial Maintenance Program at North American Trade. Looking more long-term, Terrence hopes to buy a home and send his son to college once he graduates in 2016. He believes that his ultimate goal of reintegrating into his family and community is well within his reach.

As he moves his life forward, Terrence hopes to give back and help others do the same through volunteering or sharing his story from addiction and homelessness to self-sufficiency in order to inspire others. Terrence says BoMF and MCVET have “plac[ed] me in position to take advantage of opportunities that I would have not been able to access otherwise…Skills to Succeed, financial assistance, credit counseling, and the renewing of my mind as well as my body.” The job preparation, job training, and financial literacy skills Terrence has learned, along with the support from his teammates, will help enable Terrence to accomplish his goals.


Karen and Jay at the BoMF Christmas Party!

Shoe Size? 10 Narrow

Favorite post run food? Chocolate Milk!!!

How many marathons/half marathons/5ks have you done? 5 half marathons in 2011

Favorite race you’ve ever done? Dances with Dirt – A relay race through the hills, trails, and streams of Brown County.  Every leg is different – and each person runs three segments.  The total race is 100K (62 miles) so each person runs close to a half marathon distance.  Bring a change of shoes and clothes for each leg – because you will be wet and muddy!  And bring a sense of humor – there are costumes, themes, music along the way and a pig roast at the end.

Favorite music? Jam bands – some old (Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, Widespread Panic) and some newer (Dave Matthews, Umphrey’s Mcgee)

Favorite athlete/team/sport? IU Basketball – Go Hoosiers!

Favorite vacation spot? Tough call, because I love to travel and try new places.  But, my favorite vacation was probably when we went to the Grand Canyon.  We went on a week long rafting trip from Marble Canyon to the Grand Canyon National Park and hiked out the Bright Angel trail.  We are part of a group of about 25 people.  We did many side hikes along the way and camped out under the stars every night.  The best part was 7 days with my family (including two teenage boys) with no electronics – no email or work disruptions for me, and no texting or electronic gaming for my boys!.

Tell us about your family? Married with two young adult boys (Patrick, 20 and Michael, 17) and a Golden Retriever (Sadie).  My mom, sister, 2 nieces and 2 nephews live in town, and my brother and his family are in Trujillo, Peru.  I also have more cousins around the world than you can count!

What is your most memorable BoMF memory? Running the Women’s Half.  BoMF had a water station set up in a spot where we were able to see the guys on the way out and on the way back, so it was a great support on a hot, steamy day.  The best memory, though was coming back to run with the group on Monday morning and being told by one of the BoMF runners, “yeah, you all looked good going out, but you girls weren’t looking so pretty on the way back!”  Truer words were never spoken! : )

How did you hear about BoMF?  Why did you stick with it?  What has BoMF meant to you?   I decided to start running with BoMF after seeing the group at the Joseph Maley run at Eagle Creek.  I could tell they were a close group, and I wanted to learn more and to be part of the fun.  I have loved getting to know the many runners in the group;  seeing the newer runners achieve running goals they may have never considered before – finishing their first 5K, half marathon or full marathon; while at the same time achieving their personal goals of new jobs, new housing.  I now look forward to my morning runs with BoMF.  Not only do I get my work out done by 6:30 am, but I get to start my day with good conversation, the support of the group, and an abundance of hugs!  What a great way to start the day!

Shoe Size? 8

Favorite post run food? A banana and bagel!

How many marathons/half marathons/5ks have you done?  As a sprint athlete, I am learning a whole new pace and mindset for long distance running.  I have completed a number 5ks with Back on My Feet and hope to complete a half marathon in the future!

Favorite race you’ve ever done? The Warrior Dash – a 5k that is filled with obstacles, fire, a mud pit, and a large group athletes ready to have a great time.

What half marathons have you done? Zero – I currently deem myself a professional marathon spectator/volunteer/future half marathoner.

Favorite music? Motown!

Favorite vacation spot? Anywhere there is water and hiking

Bucket list item you plan to cross off soon?

Why do you run? The release of energy, stress, and giving up my tensions to a higher power while I run is unparalleled.  It brings a sense of joy and community that is very natural and nourishing to the soul.

Family? I am from Michigan and much of my extended family still lives there including my parents.  I am the middle child of three girls.  My older sister and her family live in San Francisco and my younger sister lives in North Carolina.

How did you hear about BoMF?What has BoMF meant to you?  Why did you stick with it? I have been involved with community work, particularly reintegration programs, for a number of years and am very passionate about supporting sustainable programs that create solidarity through their work.  I heard about Back on My Feet through a job search in hoping to find something that fed my passions for athletics and community building.  Friends and the World Wide Web led me to the BoMF website, and the more I read, the more excited I was to be involved in whatever means I could!

Being part of this program has meant more to me than I could have anticipated.  The sense of intentional community, solidarity, serenity, and numerous great conversations have been incredible.  I stick with it because there has not been a morning I have regretted rising early to be with Team Warman.  I have loved being so connected and inspired by our team.

What made you decide to be the Volunteer Coordinator?  When I was asked to hop on board as the Volunteer Coordinator I was excited!  I felt that God was calling me to be more intimately involved and to fully commit to the program in a new way.

Advise for people who might want to start running with BoMF? You don’t have to be a morning person!  If you can commit to rise early at least one time per week, the relationships and energy you feel afterward will keep you coming back for more!  You also do not have to be a pro-athlete.  We are a group of all paces with a focus on nurturing relationships while we run, not on who is the fastest in the group.


On Saturday, September 29th, many individuals who work in the Indianapolis community participated in the Indiana Sports Corp Corporate Challenge. The ISC Corporate Challenge is a fun-filled community event that emphasizes healthy lifestyles and company camaraderie.

Among the companies involved, our very own partner White Lodging participated, and who better than HVAF Warman Alumnus Member Lee, who is employed at the JW Marriott to represent White Lodging in one of their running events?

Alumnus Member Lee representing White Lodging in the ISC Corporate Challenge

Lee competed alongside General Manager of the JW Marriott and Back on My Feet Indianapolis Board Member, Scott Blalock. During the race, Lee communicated to Scott his desire to move up in the company and eventually become a chef.

Lee finishing strong.

Lee has been working full time at the JW Marriott since March, has moved into his own home and recently graduated from the Circles of Support, Getting Ahead program, which  is a community engagement strategy designed to reduce and end poverty by building both individual and community assets. In addition to all of these milestones, Lee has ran two half-marathons and is currently training for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, his first full marathon!

Running Shoe Size:11

Home Town/Family: Oklahoma City, 2 sons

Fav Athletes: Peyton Manning

Fav Music:  Enya

Fav Beverage: Coffee, Mountain Dew

Fav Quote: “You only fail if you give up.”

In what branch did you serve? U.S. Navy, 12 years

Most memorable BoMF memory? The finish line at the Bull Dog Jog at Butler University. Everyone was waiting at the finish line giving high fives.

Why did you come out for the BoMF team?  There were a few reasons: 1) I always enjoyed running, 2) begin to learn to deal with people again, and 3) it was a group (all vets) in which we were all a family.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your life right now and how are you meeting that challenge? The most challenging aspect of my life right now would have to be medical issues. I have a back surgery and knee surgeries coming up. I’m just taking it one day at a time.

What races have you run in with BoMF? Which one was your fav? I’ve participated in the Legacy Loop 5k, Polar Bear 3 miler, Big Ten Hoops 5k.

What do you like to do in your spare time? Well basically, let’s put it this way, I don’t really like having spare time.  If I were physically able I like diving, flying, spelunking but since the medical issues I’ve begun enjoying different things like cooking, gardening, reading and working on the computer. I volunteer quite a bit.

James’ BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). That would be to finish my PhD in Physics.

We give a runner’s salute to James for jumping in whenever anyone needs help. He is a most capable, helpful and contributing team member and our team would simply not be the same without him!

Charlie and Brian making the Carmel 8k theirs!

Running Shoe Size: 11

Branch of Military: Army – Desert Storm – Combat Engineer

Tell us about your Family: Born and raised in Indianapolis, has two sons Colton (8) and Dakota (13)

Longest Race: Carmel 8K, I’ve never run outside the Army.

Favorite places:

Panama City Beach; I loved being in Germany with the Military, I most enjoyed the food, the castles and churches.

Favorite Color: Blue

Favorite Food: Pancakes

Things on Charlie’s bucket list:

Go to New York City and Niagara Falls, go back to Germany (and travel more in general), ride a motorcycle, go back to school for construction engineer management.

Charlie’s thoughts about BoMF:

“I was attracted to the program to better my health and the incentives to help me improve my life. I love exercising with the group and it helps me feel better; I have two stints, so I know this has helped my heart.”

What’s Charlie good at?

“Bouncing back, I always seem to bounce back from things well.”

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

“I want to have a house, and hope to still be clean. I want to be closer to my kids and in better health. And of course, still running with Back on My Feet.”

Team Leader Chrissy says, “Charlie has shown his more outgoing side as he’s continued with Team Manchester. Charlie never misses a run and is always there with a smile and a hug!”


Meghan and Progress House teammates before the Carmel Half, all smiles!

Meghan has been an instrumental part of Progress House‘s volunteer base since joining Back on My Feet last summer. Meghan will always offer a listening ear to anyone with an ailment and try to help with a stretch or advise. She is also one of the instructors of Wednesday Night Yoga, which is a fun time if you haven’t tried! Meghan, along with the other instructors always do their very best to stretch the participants! We will miss Meghan when she moves to Michigan to continue her career as a Physical Therapist in July, but we are glad she could spend some time with our team.

Shoe Size? 6 but I normally wear a 7 in running shoes

Favorite post run food? peanut butter on bananas and chocolate milk

How many marathons/half marathons/5ks have you done? I’ve done 3 half marathons and numerous 5ks

Favorite race you’ve ever done? this would be a tie between the Carmel Half Marathon the other week and the Soldier Field 10 Miler last May.

Favorite music? I enjoy all types of music as long as I can sing along!

Favorite athlete/team/sport? I love college football especially Michigan State.  I also love the Chicago White Sox.

Favorite vacation spot?

Sister Lakes, Michigan, we have been renting the same cottage for 26 years and I love spending a week relaxing at the beach.

Bucket list item you plan to cross off soon?

I just crossed off running a Half Marathon in under 2 hours thanks to the wonderful support of BoMF!

Why do you run?

I love that time when I can be alone with my thoughts and not have to answer any emails or phone calls.  When I am running all of my energy and focus is just on myself and whoever I am running with.  It’s such a special time of day for me.

Tell us about your family?

I am the youngest of four and all of my family lives in Chicago.  I have hands down the cutest niece in the world and I love going up north to visit my family as much as possible.

What is your day job?  I am a Physical Therapist at Methodist Hospital.

What is your most memorable BoMF memory?

It’s hard to think of my most memorable memory as every day that I run with BoMF has truly impacted the rest of my day.  I Loved though at the polar bear doubler when Keith showed up dressed as a polar bear I don’t think I’ve laughed like that in a long time.

How did you hear about BoMF? Why did you stick with it? What has BoMF meant to you?

I heard about BoMF through the yoga community and also a friend who runs with the program up in Chicago.  I thought I would start out just running one day a week but as soon as I showed up for my first run I knew it was a perfect fit and that I would be there as much as possible.  BoMF has meant turning a positive spin on running for me.  I used to just run so that I could eat more food ha, but now I love the relationships that I have formed with all the members and look forward to seeing everyone at 5:45 M, W and F.

How is BoMF helping you with your future career? 

The encouragement that I get from the members of BoMF on a daily basis is overwhelming, they have taught me to believe in myself and with hard work anything is possible! I never thought I would have applied for these residency positions and with the support of my running friends I have gained that self-confidence!

Will you recruit morning runners from your job in Michigan this summer to run with you, or how will you keep the motivation of running? 

I love that we get weekly emails with our plan for runs during the week and so I plan to run exactly as Coach Joe advises (even the Fartleks!)  Although I think it will be hard to find friends to run with me at 5:45 MWF, knowing that everyone is running at that time back in Indy will be great motivation.  I am looking forward to running on all the trails and hills in Michigan and then hopefully coming back to run races here!

Advise for people who might want to start running with BoMF? DO IT! It will change your life in ways that you cannot even imagine!

Anything else you want to share with readers? I am so thankful for my time being a part of the BoMF family and I look forward to visiting and running once again with an incredible crew!

Shane and Meghan ready to get after the Polar Bear Doubler!


Carmel Half running mates, Lee and Mark all smiles after a great race!

Mark Tracy came to BoMF Indy from Illinois and will be leaving to go back home and graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Recreation Programming. While Mark has been in Indianapolis he was a great asset to the Indianapolis Chapter. Mark is always willing to jump in and help out where he was needed and if you throw food in the picture he will be the first in line! We are going to miss Mark, but we wish him luck in his bright future!

Thank you Mark for all of your hard work and dedication to the program. All of our Members, both resident and non-resident will miss having you on the team. Your passion to help others shines through in the work that you do.

When you first came to BoMF, what were your expectations and what did you want to get out of the program?

When I was looking at internships last fall at University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, I really wanted to find an internship where I could help change lives through recreation. I heard about Back on My Feet in one of my classes and went online and said to myself “I want that internship.” When I came to Indy I really did not have any expectations except I knew I would have to get back in running shape fast! I was expecting to interact with the residents a lot, but I am been so happy to have gotten to know many non-residents well, too. I did not expect to meet this many good people, residents and non-residents.

Why did you choose BoMF for your internship in Indianapolis when there is a chapter in Chicago?

Well I chose Indianapolis over Chicago because it is a smaller city without a Program Coordinator, so I knew I would get a lot of hands on experience. Also, Indianapolis is actually closer to school than Chicago for me.

Explain your role in the Indy chapter to readers..

Well when Brian says jump, I say how high. I am just kidding sort of. I am technically the Program Intern. I filled the role of Program Coordinator for Brian. I did new resident orientations, helped with resident retention, and a lot of resident relationship building as well as non-resident relationship building. I also assisted in getting the guys signed up for races, transporting them for new shoes, and even counted a bit of inventory. Also, I did a lot of paperwork for Brian.

What races did you compete in while with BoMF?

Legacy Loop 5k, Big Ten Hoops Day 5k, Bulldog Jog, Carmel Half Marathon

What is your favorite BoMF memory?

There have been so many favorite memories from the races to meeting all kinds of great people. I think my favorite memory would be seeing Will hit 500 miles and after the 13 mile run, Tom and Deb treating us to breakfast afterwards. I still remember the pancakes and the biscuits of gravy!

What are your BHAG? (Big Hairy Audacious Goals, things you can’t complete on your own, you need help completing.)

To spread the word and the love of God to every person I meet through my words and most importantly my actions. I want to spread the good news of redemption told through the Gospels to all people I meet through loving my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as I love myself. I also hope to spread the love and mercy of his only begotten Son Jesus Christ, our Savior who is the way, the light, and the truth to eternal life.

What’s next for Mark?

I am planning on his summer to walk across the country again this summer. Last, summer I walked/ran from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. This summer I am walking/running from San Francisco to Washington D.C.

Manchester Miler member Kevin said, “It is clear Mark has passion and cares about what he does, he would come have lunch with us everyday and ask us how we were doing. He will go far.”

“I get up every morning and look in the mirror and thank God for my great looks,” Mark told Warman Team Leader, Tom while running the Carmel 1/2 Marathon!

Tom hit the nail on the head on how to get Mark to run at Warman, “Tell him we will have food!”

Emilie, JP, and Mark awaiting their volunteer shift at the Polar Bear Doubler. Thanks for volunteering on this cold day!


Mark, Dwayne, Nan, and Andrea at the Bulldog Jog

Finishing the Big Ten Hoops 5k all smiles!

Jeffrey, Mark, Deb, and Andy at the Hearts and Hands Picnic


Tom and Mark chat about the Carmel Half Marathon while Ron listens and thinks I'm sticking to the 8ks!

Mark and a few Manchester Milers awaiting the start of breakfast at the Marriott Downtown.

The end is near for Lee and Mark of the Carmel Half Marathon!

Austin initially has a quiet, reserved demeanor, but don’t let that fool you. The man is on a mission to progress and move forward, one step at a time. He’s had his trials and tribulations along the way, but he realized a while ago he was “fed up” with that.

A native of D.C., Austin grew up the middle child in a typical middle-class family. After a couple bouts with addiction, he “was fed-up with [drugs] and just knew it wasn’t something [he] wanted to do anymore.” Austin entered a program then moved to La Casa.

Austin first heard about Back on My Feet while at La Casa and, initially, he wasn’t too interested. The financial benefits and running incentives did not really motivate him. He was hesitant and did not sign up right away. “At first, I just thought about it from a healthy aspect, and that’s why I initially started running. I just got up and ran,” says Austin.

Fast-forward 4 months with BoMF and Austin would rather talk about his team than himself. He gets a bit choked up, stops himself, and shares what he can. “It’s the camaraderie and the fellowship with the members, volunteers and staff of Back on My Feet that got me more involved,” he says. Austin wants everyone to know, “the volunteers are exceptional. They’re genuinely good people who care about a group of people that much of society has forgotten. Sandra, Gene, Sarah, Devin, all the volunteers are really, really good people.” The members love “Back on My Feet because everyone is so nice. And, it’s genuine. The people really care.”

Neglecting his personal triumphs, Austin continues to talk about his team when, according to non-res member Devin, it was Austin who “was a steady leader for our team during a time of high (positive) turnover.” He never missed a day, “was generally the first one out in the morning and helped the team with warm-ups when needed.” He has steadily increased his endurance and distance, “often sprinting the last couple blocks of each morning run,” which has motivated others to improve as well.

Regardless of who deserves more credit, Austin says running with BoMF has helped him to “feel better all-around.” He’s since gained employment where his responsibilities are growing and he hopes to become a help desk technician in the next 2-5 years. In the beginning of April, after 4 months with BoMF, Austin moved into his own housing.

“He will be missed by members and volunteers alike as he moves on to bigger and better things,” says Devin. Yet, although getting to a run now requires him to catch a bus at 5am, Austin doesn’t intend to stop running anytime soon. He plans to continue running in his new neighborhood and with Back on My Feet.

Everyone wishes him the best of success and looks forward to hearing about his new endeavors!