Local running enthusiast Elijah Shekinah has chosen to celebrate his 40th birthday in a unique way: by running one marathon, 26.2 miles, in under three hours every single month this year. Even more importantly, Shekinah is on a mission to create awareness around and raise funds for PUMPed to Run.
A program of PUMP, PUMPed to Run, is a weekday morning running group comprised of residents of local homeless shelters and volunteer mentor runners. PUMPed to Run, also known as PtR, is now in its third year of operations in Pittsburgh. The program partners with local homeless shelters and strives to encourage sportsmanship and a team mentality to help set physical running goals, promote confidence, and encourage self-sufficiency for the homeless participants. These characteristics are important to rebuilding one’s life and act as a natural way to build self-esteem, while the mentors provide an often much needed positive influence into the shelters and participants’ lives.
Shekinah has been a supporter of PUMPed to Run since its start but decided to take his involvement to a new level this year. Shekinah is asking his friends to support his goal of running 12 marathons, including Pittsburgh’s very own marathon this May, in under three hours by donating to PUMPed to Run. Since January, Shekinah’s online blog and corresponding “Sub3forPtR” campaign has engaged 38 donors and raised a whopping $1,800 to support PUMPed to Run’s programs.
“Running is a passion of mine that I’ve had for a long time and it has given me so much over the years,” says Shekinah. “I’m pleased to be able to use it now to give back to the community through supporting PUMPed to Run.”
PUMPed to Run is especially grateful for Shekinah’s fundraising efforts this year, as the program is piloting a new incentive program called the Housing First Initiative, which will help PtR’s participants from local shelters meet their personal housing goals. The Housing First Initiative will offer incentive payments to shelter participants for every run they complete. The funds will be applied towards a security deposit or necessary household items when participants leave the shelter.
For community members interested in getting more involved with PUMPed to Run, there are several ways to help. First, runners and walkers of all abilities can sign up to volunteer as mentors. Volunteering is a flexible commitment: mentors must be encouraging and sign up in advance to participate in runs that fit with their schedule. The runs are held at 6am several times each week beginning the second week of May. Second, financial donations and in-kind donations of running gear are much appreciated to help provide clothing, shoes and incentives to program participants.
To learn more about volunteering or donating to support the PUMPed to Run program, visit our page here.
Written By: Colleen Cadman, PUMPed to Run Advisory Committee Member