Back on My Feet, and the impact of 4%
By Eugene Kim (@hi_im_euge)
“He told me, one hour is four percent of your day,” he said, about advice he had received from Boston Marathon legend, Wayne Levy. “If I can’t find ONE hour for something I love…”
Terence and I were enjoying breakfast overlooking the Pacific Ocean in San Diego. Over french toast and breakfast potatoes at a favorite local watering hole, the Naked Cafe, we caught up on life and shared conversation about everything from our love lives, to the next ultras we were tackling, to the importance of surrounding ourselves with positive people.
Terence is the Executive Director of Back on My Feet’s New York City chapter. Back on My Feet is a national non-profit operating in 12 major markets across the US. They use running and community to help thousands move out of homelessness since the organization was founded.
It starts by recruiting individuals living in shelters who commit to run three days a week in the early morning. If they meet the required criteria and stick with the program, members earn the opportunity to move into the second phase of the program, which provides educational support, job training programs, employment partnership referrals, and housing resources, partnering with companies who help Back on My Feet members find self-sufficiency, including Marriott, AT&T and CVS.
“Running offers powerful lessons for life. It teaches us to take things one step at a time – that we have to run miles one through nine to get to 10. Running teaches us that perseverance leads to success. It teaches us that if we keep moving forward, we arrive some place different and often as stronger, better versions of ourselves.”
– Back on My Feet
But what’s makes Back on My Feet’s mission even more impactful are the people, like Terence, who live the mission. Terence is a runner, and the “love” he referred to, was running.
A man of unassuming stature, Terence has a positive energy and charisma about him that makes you feel like you’re the only person in the world. He’s the type of guy who always brings you gifts and offers his apartment to you when he’s out of town. But what you don’t get at face value is Terence’s unbelievable struggles as a former investment banker and severe gambling addict – his story is so unbelievable, in fact, that he recalled the time he sat in Tobey McGuire’s living room pitching his life as a film concept (spoiler alert, Tobey passed).
It was his struggle with drowning in gambling debt and undergoing rehab that led him to discover his love for running and ultimately helped him discover Back on My Feet.
He recalled his story, the moments when he checked himself into rehab and when his friend told him, “we’re going to run the New York City Marathon.”
“Next year I’ll be running my 15th consecutive New York Marathon. Which means I get a guaranteed entry for life!”
As the waitress topped off my third cup of coffee and Terence drowned his last bite of Vegan French Toast in syrup, the conversation shifted to the topic of mutual connections, incredible people in our lives, and the importance of surrounding ourselves with positive energy.
Like Terence, the over 6,000 members that Back on My Feet has served learn the importance of progress by simply putting one foot in front of the other. These members epitomize of the notion of “everybody run,” and they help us remember the life-changing impact of running.
It helped him learn lessons about himself and surrounded him with positive people and influence. It’s his new vice, and it’s the perfect reflection of the work that Back on My Feet is doing in the world.
On our way out from breakfast, he says, “we should take a photo by the water in our Ciele caps and send it back to the guys [at Ciele].” And as I watched Terence touch the Pacific Ocean like a child who’s never seen the ocean (he’s been to San Diego many times) and knowing his struggle and the impact running has had on his life, I couldn’t help but realize that the single hour that Terence strives to keep every day is the perhaps most important four percent of his day.
From November 25 through November 28, in addition to taking $5 off every cap you order, Ciele Athletics will donate $5 per cap to Back on My Feet for every purchase using coupon code “backonmyfeet” at checkout. Shop the new collection at the Ciele Athletics store.