Saturday, December 23, 2017

Cigna Inspires: Combating Drug Addiction and Homelessness Through Running

Hi friends! I've got something really special for you today- a guest post, courtesy of Cigna!

Cigna has invited me to share some inspirational stories of all kinds of runners with one thing in common- they're all running next month at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. Today, I'm excited to share Tony Randolph's incredible running journey: facing drug addiction, homelessness, and suicidal thoughts, running helped Tony get- and stay- back on his feet.


“I was at the end of my rope- using drugs at my Mom’s house, on the verge of homelessness, feeling suicidal, just tired of myself. My nephew told me about the Helping Up Mission, so I decided to check it out. It’s a spiritually-based program that helps with recovery for people who are broken. I was working in the kitchen, and some co-workers came in looking happy and joyous, and I decided I want some of that!”

For lifelong Baltimore resident Tony Randolph, that joy came from joining his co-workers in Back on my Feet (BoMF), an organization that combats homelessness through the power of running. Their running-based model demonstrates that if you first restore confidence, strength, and self-esteem, individuals are better equipped to tackle the road ahead and move toward jobs, homes, and new lives. After a 30 day commitment to running 3 times per week at 5:30 am, showing up on time and putting in the miles, teammates progress to Next Steps, a program that looks beyond running to set goals for the next steps in their lives: re-entering the workforce, job training, education, securing housing and health resources.

Tony appreciates that with BOMF, “nobody ever walks or runs alone, everyone starts and stops with you. From the first day, staff showed me they cared even though they don’t know me. That first run is called ‘Miracle Mile’- if you haven’t run in awhile, it’s a miracle to get through it! Running regularly at 5:30am gets you into mindset of getting up and going to work, and repetition is good.” 

Having Cigna come to the mission where he was living to do blood pressure checks and other tests for residents made Tony “commit to my health and pay more attention to my heart, my head and my feet- they’re all connected.”

Tony continues to run 3 times each week with his BoMF team, moved from the mission to full-time housing, and now operates his own landscaping business. BoMF helped him get his driver’s license and even paid half the cost of his first riding mower to get his business off the ground. 

As a result of Tony’s hard work and commitment to his health, The Cigna Foundation, a partner of Back on My Feet, is bringing Tony on an all-expense paid trip to Walt Disney World in January. As a symbol and extension of his health journey, he will participant in the Walt Disney World® 5K on Thursday, January 4.

“Enhancing the well-being of people and the places where they live directly connects to Cigna's mission," said Mary Engvall, Executive Director of the Cigna Foundation. “We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their best health, but sometimes those opportunities are limited by factors outside a person’s control. The Cigna Foundation’s philanthropic giving focuses on creating health equity to help people achieve their best possible personal health and enjoy living their best lives.” 

Now Tony says, “Life is great! Back on My Feet showed me I can do anything, and they gave me the confidence to do it. I moved back in with my Mom, and where I used to do drugs now I run my landscaping business. I call it getting a raise- I’m not wasting my money on drugs! The confidence BoMF has given me makes me a much better man and father, and I’ve gone from being someone you didn’t want around, to now being the Fred Sanford of the family- whatever you need, call Tony and he’ll help you out. I’ve run several races with my youngest son, and I’ve completed 8 courses including the Baltimore half and some shorter races. Without the help of Cigna and BoMF, I don’t know where I’d be.”

BoMF Program Director Marybeth Moran said, “Tony truly is Back on My Feet for Life. We couldn’t do the important work we do for teammates like Tony without a good partner like the Cigna Foundation, whose mission to promote health, well-being and sense of security so closely mirrors our own.”


How inspirational is Tony, right?!

I'll be sharing a few more stories here in advance of WDW Marathon Weekend- if you're in need of some running motivation, just come on back next week! 😉

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