Occasionally, Onlooker Slowdown will feature interviews with people who fulfill Benjamin Franklin's suggestion that one should always "write something worth reading, or do something worth writing about." For our first interview, we caught up with Back On My Feet's new Program Coordinator for the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter, Jennifer Halabrin Kimble. Back On My Feet is a program that introduces the homeless to running; nationwide, this has worked wonders with many of the now formerly homeless who found discipline and purpose in a pair of running shoes.
Prior to working for Back On My Feet, Jennifer taught school for 12 years and then, after falling in love with running, became certified as a running coach through the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) and as a Level Two Personal Trainer through the Cooper Institute. Formerly the Training Program Coordinator for Run On! Dallas, after volunteering for almost a year with Back On My Feet, she came on board with BOMF as Program Coordinator in December 2011.
Check out Back On My Feet on their website, or you'll find them at a booth and aid station at the DCFA Form Follows Fitness 5K on Saturday, February 25.
Who first inspired you to start running?
I started running in the beginner classes at Run On! as a way to lose weight after my second child was born. At that time in my life, I was completely absorbed in all things baby. It was refreshing to be around people who were talking about things other than sleepless nights, diapers and teething symptoms.
As a runner, what race do you remember the most?
My first life changing race experience was my first marathon in Austin. My coach Will Craven ran the race with our group, and we stayed together until mile 19 when he told us to go on. I completely hit the wall at about mile 22, and at mile 24 who comes passing by? Will of course! He ran me in to the finish line where I was filled with such intense emotion that I bent over and blubbering and sobbing. It took me 45 min to walk back to my hotel because I was so sore and tired.
Of all of your running accomplishments, which one brings you the most pride?
My hardest race so far has been the Big Horn 100 in Wyoming. I really got behind on my nutrition and at mile 75 I felt so bad that I thought I was going to have to drop. My pacer and friends fed me about 800 calories at that aid station which helped me to recover and finish the race.
A close second is the first time I paced my friend Mike at Massanutten Mountain Trail 100. That course is rocky and tough, and we got caught in a lightning storm striking so close to us that the hairs on my arms were standing up. I did the last 45 miles of the race with him, and after that adventure I felt like I could truly conquer anything.
Share a story of someone you’ve trained that particularly inspires you.
I am inspired everyday by our Back on My Feet team members and the generosity of our volunteers. Some of our residential team members have faced unfathomable challenges, yet they tell me daily how blessed they are. Their strength and courage inspires me, and I feel loved unconditionally when I am with the team.
What motivated you to make the move from Run On! to Back On My Feet?
I loved working for Run On! They truly have an amazing staff and coaches who work together to help runners achieve their goals. Working for Back on My Feet allows me to use the skills that I have gained as a coach, teacher and manager; while helping our residential member to move forward toward self-sufficiency. Quite frankly, while volunteering for BOMF, the team members stole my heart!
Efforts like Back on My Feet are spreading throughout the United States. What is it about running that resonates with the homeless people you serve?
Through running, our members develop confidence and self-esteem which resonates into other areas of their life. At Back on My Feet we hug, we encourage and we promote accountability through positive reinforcement. Through community and teamwork we establish a forum for success and personal growth. We are all members who are equally invested in the success of each other and the team.
What are DFW Back on my Feet’s most significant needs right now?
Homelessness in the United States is projected to increase by 5% in the next year, and it would be awesome if we could expand our efforts throughout DFW and the United States.
It costs about $100 to get a member started in the Back on My Feet program, and $1,800 to support a member in the 6-9 month program, so donations are always welcome. You can also support BOMF by coming out to run with the teams, Getting your company involved, wearing back on my feet gear, volunteering for events and committees and being a BOMF fundRacer. To learn more or to sign up, visit backonmyfeet.org or email me at email@example.com.