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Entries in Anne Mahlum (2)


Happy Belated Birthday, BoMF!

By Mia Coen

When I reflect on the stories I've written, I get a visual image in my head, like a montage of different people, health clubs, and programs. There are a lot of smiles, a lot of sweat, and a lot of places that I associate with this industry. One of the most inspiring stories, though, was conceived in a Philadelphia neighborhood, where Anne Mahlum started a program called Back on My Feet (BoMF)—a running program for the homeless with locations in Baltimore, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. 

I recently saw an ad for the Boston Chapter on my local news network and was reminded of how great this program was. It’s a nonprofit organization that promotes the self-sufficiency of the homeless population by engaging them in running as a means to build confidence, strength, and self-esteem. I wrote about it last summer, here on CBI Unbound.

I took it upon myself to research the program again to see what was new. Little did I know, the Boston Chapter celebrated its first birthday this summer! BoMF has served six homeless shelters here in Boston and has enrolled over 150 people in the program. Celebrating at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel, members, volunteers, and supporters had a formal birthday breakfast, but on the condition that attendees wear their favorite pair of sneakers!

Tina Haupert, health and fitness author and volunteer at BoMF, wrote about the birthday event on her blog. She reported that among the shelter residents that have been served by the program, 17 have attained permanent housing, 45 have received job training, and another 18 have obtained employment in the past year.

“Participating in BoMF every week for the past four months has showed me that this organization is so much more than just running. It’s about giving back and helping others,” writes Haupert. “At the same time, however, BoMF is not about handouts. It’s a program that you get what you give, so residents earn the right for a second chance (e.g. job training, permanent housing, etc.) by waking up three mornings every week to run.

“Running doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter who you are. Running can make you feel amazing and help you find potential in yourself. It helps people feel loved, respected, and excited about themselves. Back on My Feet is an organization that I am truly proud to be part of.”

Happy Belated Birthday, BoMF! Thank you for continuing to inspire!

Enjoy this video montage that looks back on BoMF’s first year in Boston. 


Taking a Good Idea and Running With It: Inspiring People Through Fitness

By Mia Coen 

In 2008, Anne Mahlum would wake up every morning and go for a run through one of Philadelphia’s most unfortunate neighborhoods. She would jog by homeless people—many of whom became familiar, day after day—and greet them with waves and smiles. One day, an idea stopped her in her tracks: what if she invited them to go for a run?

She decided to found Philadelphia’s first Homeless Running Club. 

Today, the club is now a full-fledged program called Back On My Feet, with locations in Baltimore, Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and, of course, Philadelphia. According to the mission statement, Back On My Feet is a nonprofit organization that promotes the self-sufficiency of the homeless population by engaging them in running as a means to build confidence, strength, and self-esteem.

The program does not provide food nor does it provide shelter, but instead offers a community that embraces equality, respect, discipline, teamwork, and leadership. There are no labels, no stigmas, and no stereotypes. Members of Back on My Feet—regardless of race, education, or socioeconomic status—join together to move their own lives forward, as well as the lives of their teammates. 

Health clubs from around the world have also stepped up to support Back On My Feet and its mission. Life Fitness made a substantial donation to the organization back in June and the company’s employees donated their time as running mentors when the Chicago Chapter opened. Maryland Athletic Club also partnered with the organization and pledged to open its doors to Back On My Feet members when the weather is too inclement for running. 

“Running is such a beautiful metaphor for life,” reflects Anne Mahlum, founder and president of Back on My Feet. “Life is about choosing different roads, and our program teaches the importance of choosing roads filled with opportunity, hope, and happiness.”

To see the program in action, click the video below: