In April of 2015, Runwell partnered with Gateway Community Services, a nonprofit drug and alcohol treatment facility in Jacksonville, FL to implement a pilot wellness program. In an effort to help those struggling in their first weeks of recovery, the program encourages healthy habits, including nutrition and fitness. Participants receive coaching and encouragement from experienced runners and also those experienced in recovery, with Ambassador Mike Martinez and Program Director Kim Palewek leading the charge.
In just over a year in this program, several individuals have learned to thrive in recovery by adopting healthy habits early. Along with therapy and treatment at Gateway, they're learning firsthand how exercise can improve both mental and physical well being. By setting realistic goals, these individuals are achieving endeavors they never thought would be possible.
Most recently, the second Gateway group to go through the program participated in the Run for the Pies 5k in Jacksonville, FL. For a couple of them, it was their first race ever, and one told Martinez she could get hooked on the feeling of accomplishment and earning a medal. A few former participants have moved on from Gateway, but still meet with the new group on their weekly runs in an effort to give back and maintain the active and supportive community they've come to rely on.
Ambassador Mike Martinez has maintained his sobriety for over 20 years, and began running in 2001 when he gave up smoking. He continues to be a driving force in this program, and it wouldn't be where it is today without his hard work.
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