Like most people who participate in the Strides in Recovery program, Joel was not a runner before going to treatment. He started running with the team because "I felt intrigued, interested, and happy to do something for myself." He began looking forward to the runs each week. He then discovered another benefit. At first, he had been running alone, but then he decided to stay alongside the coach who was leading the runners. He engaged in conversation. "I realized the coaches could answer my questions about running and living a healthy lifestyle.
I was motivated because I could learn from them. I wanted to be part of what they were doing. I wanted to be able to be helpful and give good advice too. "
The initial purpose behind Joel's running was to learn. Soon it evolved to helping others learn about the benefits of exercise and a healthy lifestyle. He ran every week with the team while in residential treatment at Fred Brown Recovery Services. When he transferred to sober living, he continued to run with the team. He ran side by side with his newly sober brothers, eagerly sharing his newfound knowledge with them. He inspired others to do their best.
Joel (back row, far left) with his teammates, before running Conquer the Bridge, a 5.3 mile organized run over the Port of Los Angeles.
Then, since he had over a year of sobriety and was so engaged in helping others, he was eligible to become a Strides in Recovery head coach. He eagerly took advantage of that opportunity. Today, he still runs with his newly sober brothers at Fred Brown, and he is also the head coach of the House of Hope team. When asked what he likes most about coaching, he talked about giving back, and learning more so he could give back more.
"I am a positive person. I'm able to show up and put together the right attitude and the right energy. I want to make it a good experience like I had. I want to keep learning so I can teach more about the benefits. I want to help others continue walking and running and getting the benefits of regular exercise."
Joel, with the women of the House of Hope team he coaches