Program aims to help homeless get ‘Up and Running Again’

Dec. 19, 2018

This paid piece is sponsored by GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness.

In 14 weeks, Wendy Lenning has seen homeless participants train and complete a half-marathon.

She was so inspired by the program that helped them achieve it that after moving from Southern California she decided to bring it to Sioux Falls.

“We love it here. It’s a fabulous community,” she said. “And when I came here, I really felt it on my heart to do something.”

She had learned about the nonprofit Up and Running Again through her husband’s colleague, who was one of four accountants who founded the program in 2009.

Her pastor in Sioux Falls connected her with the Union Gospel Mission and the St. Francis House, which agreed to offer the training next year to the people it serves.

“It starts out very slowly,” Lenning said. “We know people have different skill sets and are coming from different starting points. You start out walking a couple minutes and then jogging a couple minutes and slowly building up.”

In Sioux Falls, participants will start training in the spring. And when they do, they will be equipped for it.

GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness just wrapped up a drive to collect athletic wear and shoes, and “the response we got was really overwhelming,” Lenning said.

“I can’t say enough good things about GreatLIFE. They have been so supportive. My husband and I are members, and GreatLIFE said we’ll stand up and partner and get the participants the clothing and shoes they need. A lot of times, participants have come the first day with whatever they have, and we want to make sure they have the tools they need to do the best they can. GreatLIFE made a huge difference in ensuring that happened.”

The difference the program has made for homeless participants as it has spread across the West Coast has been remarkable, she added.

“The stories we’ve heard from other participants are amazing. People have said they had never completed anything in their life. Or they hadn’t seen their families in five years because of being on heroin, and they were at the finish line.”

In Sioux Falls, that finish line will be the Sioux Falls Half Marathon in September 2019, where race organizers have agreed to donate up to 20 bibs for participants from Up and Running Again.

“It’s about making difficult decisions in life to get to that finish line,” Lenning said. “And in Sioux Falls, people have really opened their doors already to make this happen.”

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Program aims to help homeless get ‘Up and Running Again’

In 14 weeks, a program from the West Coast has helped homeless residents run a half-marathon. It’s coming to Sioux Falls in 2019.

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