Atlanta Mission 5K Gives Women Hope

Starting Line of the 2018 Atlanta Mission 5K, Presented by Aetna

On February 17th, 2018, 3,500 runners participated in the Atlanta Mission 5K Race To End Homelessness, presented by Aetna. Running in the cold gave participants an idea of the hardships men and women who are experiencing homelessness go through in the winter.

Over 80 clients currently receiving services at Atlanta Mission participated in the race, though many of them were unsure about it. Shirley, who has been receiving services at The Atlanta Day Shelter for Women and Children since October, said “The race scared me because I’ve never done one, but there was a lot of excitement surrounding it. So I signed up, and it inspired me to be healthier.”

Some clients had medical reasons not to run. Janelle has been battling lupus since 2013: “My legs were feeling bad leading up to the race, but I wanted to try it anyway. That morning and entire day, my legs did not hurt at all. It was a miracle”. She wasn’t the only client who saw the outpouring of love at the race as a blessing. Joyce, who has been receiving services since December said “It was a miracle to see all those people there supporting us at Atlanta Mission. Tears came to my eyes.”

Many of our clients had never run a race before, and were not in ideal physical shape, but they ran with a smile and pushed through. Atlanta Mission Clients Run the 5KJoyce said “My favorite part was seeing all the staff cheer us on- they were proud of us”.  “It was incredible to watch the runners encourage clients to keep going,” Shirley remembered. “It was rough for me. I had chest pains and the hills were hard. Our legs were tired, but one runner stayed behind with us and kept encouraging us to keep walking. If he was not there, we wouldn’t have finished. He gave us hope.” This particular runner, Dan, makes it his mission each year to stay behind the last runners in the race and encourage them.

“Three years ago, during the Atlanta Mission 5K, my knee injury required me to walk instead of run,” Dan said.  “As I walked and prayed, God revealed to me that the last runners in the race were Atlanta Mission homeless clients who desperately needed the encouragement to continue and the accountability to complete the race that I could provide as I walked with them. The last three years God has honored me with the privilege and blessing of supporting the last runners to finish the 5K by offering them encouragement throughout the race and holding them accountable to achieve their goal of completing the race!”

The race changes the lives of those who have given up hope. It can show clients firsthand how many people want to support them. Janelle encourages everyone to give the race a try. “I am very grateful for Atlanta Mission and the help I have received here. Atlanta Mission gives women, children, and men hope for a better future.”