Once he starts, he keeps on going. You might be surprised to know Walter Barrera, a Pacers Running staff member at our Pentagon Row location, regularly does 50 mile and even 100 mile races. Of course, you would be even more surprised to learn his incredible story and how he got involved with running in the first place.
Walter would never have gotten into running if not for the help he received from Back On My Feet, an organization that empowers members of the homeless community through running. In 2010, Walter was living in a homeless shelter after going through a dark period of his life in which he became depressed and unhealthy. When he was introduced to the Back On My Feet program, he knew he had nothing to lose and started to join in their regular morning runs. At first, he could hardly go a block, but his persistence saw him progress to a mile and onward as he started to regain his health and confidence.
Having found more stability in his life, he was ultimately able to move on from the shelter and find a job and a place of his own. Of course, he continued to run with members of the Back On My Feet program while pushing himself to go further and further distances on his own time. Eventually, with his new-found passion for running becoming more apparent, he sought a job with Pacers Running.
We are proud to have Walter as part of our team– his story is an obvious example of the power of running to transform people. As he continues to rack up many miles on the road and trails, running has helped him push for greater things in his personal life as well.
Incidentally, that is a dynamic also championed by Mizuno through their #mileschangeyou campaign and a big reason why they are big supporters of Back On My Feet. This April, Mizuno is donating $10 to Back On My Feet for every pair of Mizuno shoes that are purchased. This donation will go a long way to help the organization introduce running to more people and offer support to their members. If you are a fan of Mizuno’s great running shoes, including popular models like the Rider and Inspire, now would be a great time to upgrade to a new pair knowing your purchase will make a difference. Or if you have not tried their shoes before, do come visit one of our locations to see how they feel.
Walter’s story serves as real motivation to all of us at Pacers Running. His openness with sharing his experience and his dedication to running continue to be sources of inspiration. It is an ongoing impact he had no way of knowing he would have when he first chose to start with the Back On My Feet program and run his first block.