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"I want to help as many people as possible through drug and alcohol recovery. As many as I can possibly help. Inspire other people to become the best possible people they can become in the field they're in."

— Eli, Back on My Feet Atlanta, Alum and FundRacer

From Unhoused Veteran to Marathon FundRacer: Eli’s Journey

In the tapestry of lives touched by Back on My Feet, each story is unique, echoing the spirit and determination of the individuals who have battled homelessness and addiction. Today, we want to introduce you to Eli, a Back on My Feet Atlanta alum who, in his own words, “I’ve gone from having trouble keeping jobs to graduating college, starting my own company, running all of the major marathons here in the United States, doing ED talks with Back on My Feet, meeting local TV personalities, and NFL hall of fame players. I never dreamed that any of these things would happen to person like myself.”

Life Before Back on My Feet

Eli’s life before finding Back on My Feet was a rollercoaster ride, marked by personal struggles with drugs and alcohol. Yet, amid the challenges, there were moments of happiness. He had worked various jobs, lived in different cities and states, and had experienced the joys of marriage and fatherhood. However, the shadows of addiction and a tumultuous path had been cast during his military service, setting him on a troubling trajectory.

Caught in a cycle of job loss and surrounded by individuals battling addiction, Eli found himself drawn into criminal activities. But a turning point in his life arrived when his father sent him money for essential needs, only to see it vanish to his addiction. Eli’s family recognized his need for help, and he, too, knew that change was overdue.

The Turning Point: Discovering Back on My Feet

Eli’s journey toward recovery took an incredible turn when he crossed paths with Back on My Feet. Everything began with a simple yet profound question from an Atlanta team member: “What can I do for you?” This marked the beginning of a new chapter in his life.

Eli didn’t hold back – he attended every workshop, financial class, and every run. Running became his lifeline, replacing the destructive habits of his past. His life underwent a profound transformation, and he hasn’t looked back since.

Eli continues to run and his commitment to Back on My Feet, and the bonds he has forged remain steadfast. Beyond running, the organization was pivotal in Eli’s academic journey. They supported him through his final semester of HVAC school, even after completing the program. This support enabled him to get a job in his chosen field and pursue his dream of starting his own HVAC business.

Celebrating Achievements and Nurturing Dreams

Eli’s list of accomplishments is impressive, by any standards. Eli says graduating HVAC school was his biggest achievement, “That’s the first time I ever graduated a school system or anything other than the military. And I was able to do it before my mom passed, and she got to see me graduate, and I took a picture with her in my cap and gown. Especially after 10 years of drug and alcohol abuse, that’s a heck of an achievement.” Eli has also continued his journey as a runner, conquering three World Major Marathons, and fundraising for Back on My Feet for many more races!

In 2018, Eli joined local community members in an ED Talk, shedding light on the issue of gentrification and economic disparities in major cities. His inspiring story and journey have resonated with many.

As for his goals, Eli envisions running successful overseas marathons and continuing his mission to help others, “I want to help as many people as possible through drug and alcohol recovery. As many as I can possibly help. Inspire other people to become the best possible people they can become in the field they’re in.”

Words of Encouragement

Eli’s message to new members is simple: “Join for yourself. No gifts, no promises, no anything. Join to improve your life. Trust the process. Stick and stay.”

For new volunteers, Eli advises a year of dedicated involvement to truly understand the program’s impact. Volunteering goes beyond just running; it’s about forming connections and fostering a sense of community.

A Tribute to Community and Growth

Eli’s story is a heartwarming testament to the power of hope, community, and second chances. He gives back with humility and gratitude, participating in events like the Chicago Marathon and fundraising efforts to support Back on My Feet’s mission. His journey is a reminder that transformation is possible, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Eli concludes with a heartfelt message to his Back on My Feet family: “We love this.” It’s a statement that encapsulates the spirit of community, resilience, and growth that defines Back on My Feet.

See how you can combat homelessness with us today.