Will, a former HVAF client, just returned from Austin, Texas, where he spoke about his experiences in a national running program, Back on My Feet, that helped change his life. HVAF of Indiana, Inc. partnered with Back on My Feet in February 2011 and Will is a recent graduate of the program. The national nonprofit organization uses running to help those experiencing homelessness change the way they see themselves.
Hear Will‘s speech from the Austin, Texas launch event:
|Will speaks to a large crowd in Austin, TX|
Will now works at JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. Read more on Will’s journey from homelessness to self-reliance. His story was featured in the HVAF blog post below on January 2011.
Will’s childhood wasn’t easy.
“I felt like my world ended when my mother passed away,” Will says. “I went to live with my extended family but felt like I never fit in, because I thought that my family never loved me the way my mother loved me.”
After high school, Will joined the Marines, serving in Japan, the Philippines and Korea from 1983-87. But upon his return to civilian life, he was still consumed by the pain of his childhood and became addicted to alcohol. Soon he became homeless.
“I tried to fit in everywhere,” says Will. “But my addiction to alcohol prevented me from making any deep connections with people.”
|Will at HVAF in January 2011|
After decades of running from his troubles, Will is now running towards a brighter future.
Will joined HVAF in June 2011 and worked with a case manager and REST Coordinator Fred Young. When Back on My Feet announced its collaboration with HVAF in March of 2011, Will and other Central Indiana veterans who have experienced homelessness, signed up to run. The group found new confidence through running.
“I had not run since I left the service and frankly I was out of shape,” says Will. “I was helping myself become a better person one step at a time by training with the guys each Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5:30 a.m. “It was early start but it left me with a sense of motivation the rest of the day.”
“Will has come a long way in learning to believe in himself,” says Brian Meyer, Back on My Feet Program Director. “He will be successful at anything he chooses because he’s determined.”
“I’m charting a new path in the New Year, and it includes sobriety and plenty of exercise,” adds Will.
Will completed the Carmel Marathon. It was his first marathon.