Recently homeless man to run Star 10K this weekend

Rescue Mission runner uses running for recovery

ROANOKE, Va. – It’s sunrise on a chilly spring morning.

A group of runners are pushing themselves on the Roanoke River Greenway.  They are men and women of various ages and abilities.

Other than running on this particular morning, they have something else in common.  All of them are now, or were recently, homeless.

“I've been an addict (all) of my adult life, and I found myself homeless 14 months ago. Had nowhere to go, had no direction, until I actually surrendered myself completely, had (to) change everything about me,” said Danny White, who now lives at the Roanoke Rescue Mission, where he said he found both running and a relationship with Jesus.

Danny White had it all: Fast cars, a family - including a wife and two now grown daughters.  But he couldn't stay away from alcohol and harder drugs.  He used crack cocaine daily.

“Being an addict, one of the things that happens is we tend to not finish what we started because of our addiction.  And now, with the drugs and alcohol out of my life, I can concentrate on getting back into the mainstream of life,” he said.

Now 14 months into recovery at the Roanoke Rescue Mission, where he works in the kitchen and lives in an apartment, he talks of staying under a bridge when it was 10 degrees outside. 

No wonder then that running on a chilly morning doesn't seem that big a task.

“Running is just like my recovery. You have to do a little bit of time, and you have to get adjusted to it. I mean, you don't start off and run your mouth and completely the first time. It's a little bit at a time. And it's the same way with my recovery -- I have to take it one day at a time,” said White.

Danny and members of his group run with a volunteer named Tammy Wiley, who has been leading these early morning jaunts from the Mission twice a week for about eight years. 

“I seen some other gentleman that were doing it, and I asked them about it and I was introduced to Tammy, and she asked me if I wanted to join, and I said sure,” explained White. “And it was a struggle at first because I had to build up some stamina, of course. But now it's just fun. I enjoy it. It's not a chore.”

Now Danny runs 3 miles or so every other day, aAnd he's training to run the Star 10K, one of the races offered this weekend in association with the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon. He will have to run 6.2 miles to the Roanoke Star and back. 

This is a challenge he said is not unlike the one he faces daily as he tries to stay sober and turn his life around.

“Running not only helps me physically, it helps me mentally and it's a big part of my life now,” said White.

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