News Release: Atlanta Mission 5K Race to End Homelessness, presented by Aetna

News Release

Media Contact: 
Rachel Reynolds, PR/Communications Associate
(321) 795-7137

For Immediate Distribution


Atlanta Mission takes over Downtown Atlanta for its annual 5K Race to End Homelessness presented by Aetna. On February 17, 2018, AT 8:30AM at Pemberton Place, thousands of men, women and children will take to the streets of downtown Atlanta to run a race in the cold for those who sleep in the cold. The city of Atlanta is home to thousands of homeless men, women, and children who face the perilous conditions of winter without a roof over their heads. Each race registration provides a night of shelter for someone who would otherwise be sleeping in the cold.

Atlanta Mission serves over 1,000 of these men, women and children every single day. The downtown men’s shelter alone is a refuge for over 400 men on a daily basis. We hope you will join us this February as donors, volunteers, community members and Atlanta Mission clients run side by side in the race to end homelessness. For more information on the race go to




Atlanta Mission is the city’s largest and longest-running provider of homeless services, Atlanta Mission transforms, through Christ, the lives of those facing homelessness. Established in 1938, the provide critical needs to over 1,000 homeless men, women and children daily. For more information about Atlanta Mission, visit

The Light: January 2018

"A Gangster Finds God"

After being shot 12 times, it’s nothing short of a miracle that Gyassi is alive today. But the transformation that occurred in his heart is just as amazing...

I remember sitting in a bus station last winter, waiting for the Greyhound to bring me to Atlanta Mission. It was snowing, and the cold irritated the raw bullet wounds in my shoulder, back, and legs. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into — but I sure knew what I getting away from.

I was born a crack baby and grew up in a family of gangbangers in Los Angeles — running the streets, fighting, using drugs, going wild. When I was 15, my mom had enough and moved us to Atlanta. But the more things change…

A new city didn’t affect who I really was. My reckless behavior continued. I kept robbing people to make money. And I kept using drugs. But one day, I held up the wrong guys. They found me out, waited for just the right time . . . on October 27, 2015, I’d just arrived home, was walking to my door when a car pulled up and bullets started flying. I got hit 12 times.

By God’s grace, I survived. But when I left the hospital, I couldn’t work and had no money. I was homeless, in pain, struggling to keep my wounds clean. When  doctors stopped giving me medication, I broke down. I couldn’t take it anymore! So I called Atlanta Mission for help, and that’s what brought me to the bus station on that cold winter’s day. I came to the Potter’s House, their long-term residential discipleship program.

For a city boy like me, it wasn’t easy. Most people didn’t think I’d make it, and they had good reason to doubt me. I was still a thug and I acted like it. But I was determined to work through all the emotional baggage I grew up with. I got saved here and my life slowly started to change. I left the past behind and everything got better, especially my relationship with my mother. Everyone here became the family I never had.

Next month, I’ll leave here. I’m planning to start my own business. I’ve turned 180 degrees from the man I used to be. That’s the power of God — but God used generous, compassionate people like you to do it. Thank you for transforming my life.

Running for Atlanta's Homeless Children

Kara and Ryan Oleniczak aren’t runners, but that hasn’t stopped them from participating in Atlanta Mission’s 5K. Here, they share what inspires them to run...

Kara and Ryan at the 2017 Atlanta Mission 5K Race to End HomelessnessWe were looking for a way to make a difference, so we started volunteering with children at Atlanta Mission. We’d come and hang out with the kids — read them Bible stories, play games, do activities…it was a great opportunity to love on them, to be a steady, positive influence in their lives and show them we care.

When we heard about Atlanta Mission’s 5K, we decided to jump in even though we’re not runners. Every year, we joke that we should start jogging to prepare. That hasn’t happened yet, but we still have a great time.

This is running with a purpose. The people who benefit often don’t know where the will sleep at night or where their next meal will come from. Running in the cold might make us uncomfortable, but that’s how homeless people live, so it creates empathy  for them.

One year, we had a chance to cross the finish line with some of the kids we see every week. Knowing that we were running for them made the whole experience so much more meaningful.

Thank you Kara and Ryan for sharing your story! Like them, you don’t have to be a runner to participate in Atlanta Mission’s 5K. To learn more, read below.

Run in the cold for those who sleep in the cold.

Aetna Presents the 2018 Atlanta Mission 5K Race to End Homelessness

Join thousands of other runners, walkers, and people of goodwill to help our neighbors who don’t have a roof over their heads this winter.

When: February 17, 2018, at 8:30 a.m.

Where: Pemberton Place – World of Coca Cola

Cost: $35 Registration fee Register today at:

If you don’t want to run/walk but would still like to support the event, register as a Ghost Runner. You will receive an official event shirt by mail, and your registration fee will directly help your homeless neighbors.

Transforming Relationships at Atlanta Mission

Relationships that Transform

Basic needs draw people to Atlanta Mission.

Meeting Basic Needs at Atlanta Mission, Meals, Shelter, Clothing, and Medical Care

But financial poverty isn’t always the biggest problem. Relational poverty and isolation can be far greater challenges.

Atlanta Mission builds steady, caring relationships with our guests that inspire long-term transformation.

Relational poverty and isolation can be far greater challenges.
Relationships lead to long term transformation

As a result, the number of women choosing long-term, comprehensive help (rather than just a meal or a night of shelter) has more than doubled, and the men aren’t far behind…

Thank you for meeting the deep needs of our guests. By God’s grace, you’re transforming lives and ending homelessness!

Transforming lives, ending their homelessness

People Who Sleep in the Cold Need Your Help

Woman outside at Atlanta Mission in Winter

You probably don’t think about the life-transforming difference you’re making for homeless men, women, and children very often… how you’re giving them compassionate care and a brighter future. But lives are changing every day because of you — and it’s beautiful.

Today, we hope you’ll continue this good  work. Your support will provide your homeless neighbors with urgently needed food, shelter, and clothing, plus comprehensive resources that help them overcome poverty and homelessness for good.

Please help rescue your homeless neighbors from the cold streets. Donate generously to Atlanta Mission today.

Running a Good Race — Figuratively and Literally

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7

Every year at this time, I think about these moving words from the Apostle Paul. They not only inspire me to carry on the good work at Atlanta Mission — they also fill me with gratitude for people like you, who are “running the race” with us.

Next month, Paul’s metaphor will take on a more literal sense when people from across the city join us for our annual 5K Race to End Homelessness. It is a visible sign to those on the street and to our community that they matter, that we believe in them, and that Jesus loves them.

When our brokenhearted neighbors learn how much you care about them, many of them decide to stay in the race, too. It’s common to hear from a client, “I needed someone else to believe in me before I could believe in myself!”

By God’s grace, that belief has transformed many lives, and helped many homeless neighbors “keep the faith,” too. Let us pray that our impact grows in the year ahead. If you’re able, please join us on the morning of February 17 to “run in the cold for those who sleep in the cold.” You’ll help rescue many more people from the streets, so they can run a good race, too. Thank you!

Jim Reese
President & CEO

The 2017 Atlanta Mission 5K Race Recap


On the morning of February 18, 2017, Atlanta Mission residents, community members, and volunteers turned out in force for the annual 5K Race to End Homelessness. It was a timely event—just a week earlier, the overnight temperature had dipped below freezing, so sleeping outdoors was especially dangerous.

For those people with nowhere to sleep but the streets, the race offered hope: For each registration, Atlanta Mission provided someone a night of shelter, including a warm bed, a hot shower, a decent meal, and an opportunity for life-transforming services.

On race day, 250 volunteers gathered at Centennial Olympic Park downtown before daybreak to set up. As the runners began to arrive, over 3,800 of them, they prepped with stretching exercises and fun dance warmups. The upbeat crowd consisted of young and old alike, men and women from every walk of life, including shelter residents.

Atlanta Mission’s CEO, Jim Reese, said at the time, “It’s so exciting to see these people come downtown and say, ‘These people matter.’ We can’t thank them enough.”

When the sponsor’s mascot, the Fidelity Bank lion, fired off the starting shot, the excited runners took to the downtown Atlanta streets, where they would race north toward Georgia Tech and back, past the CNN Center, Atlanta Mission’s large men’s campus, and the World of Coca-Cola.

The fastest time was turned in at 16 minutes, 47 seconds, but for many, it wasn’t about speed. With Atlanta Mission clients running alongside their supporters, it was an empowering experience for them to connect with others in the community and to realize they are cared about.

The Atlanta Mission 5K Race to End Homelessness is an annual event and is one of the last Official AJC Peachtree Road Race Qualifying Events. It’s one of the largest 5K races in Georgia, and it’s growing every year, with the 2018 race expected to be even larger.

Not only did participating in the race help race participants break out of the isolation that is so much a part of homelessness—for some it simply meant the opportunity to accomplish something. As one resident proudly said, “I’ve never finished anything in my life. The way that I’m going to feel today when I cross that finish line is the way I’m going to feel when I graduate.”



The 2017 Atlanta Mission 5K Race to End Homelessness

atlmission5k-racheliliadis-217 (1)Over 3,000 participants chose to run in the Atlanta Mission 5K Race to End Homelessness last year, braving the mid-February cold. But for the many homeless individuals on the Atlanta streets, being out in the cold, day and night throughout the winter, is not a choice they freely make.

This year, join us at Centennial Olympic Park at 8:15 am on February 18 to help offer these men, women, and children a choice. Each race registration will fund one night of shelter and services for a person who would otherwise be out on the streets in the cold. Donors, community members, volunteers, and Atlanta Mission clients will come together to help end homelessness, a particularly dangerous experience in the bitter winter months.

Whether you volunteer, run in the race, or support it financially, you’ll feel the positivity, excitement and hope in the air when you arrive. Volunteers help coordinate the run, and the runners are given direction and do warm-up activities before embarking on the route, which winds through sectioned-off lanes on downtown Atlanta streets.

Said one resident who participated in the 2016 run, a man who had been battling drug addiction and a deep crisis of the spirit, “I never knew how much I was struggling inside. The Atlanta Mission gave me this foundation I have right now…They helped me find a new life. Today, I’m running for myself and the guys at the Atlanta Mission. Some of them can’t run, but I ran for them, because I know we can overcome it.”

Other Atlanta Mission clients who have participated in the race stress the importance of being able to actually finish something—which many have not been able to do in a long time. It also represents an opportunity to get together with new people and be part of something healthy, rather than feeling as though they are on the forgotten fringes of society.

You can help take the chill out of winter for the homeless with your participation. Register for the Atlanta Mission 5K Race here, either as a single runner, or as part of a team—start your own or join an existing one. By running, you’ll also be participating in an official AJC Peachtree Road Race Qualifying Event prior to the 2017 lottery.

Register Now