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Helping Up Mission laces up therapeutic running group for those recovering from addiction

Helping Up Mission has running group for those recovering from addiction
Helping Up Mission has running group for those recovering from addiction 03:12

BALTIMORE - The ritual of a morning run is much more than exercise for a dedicated group that hits the streets of Baltimore while most of us are still asleep.

Tommy Bates leads the running group for Helping Up Mission, an organization that helps men recovering from addiction and homelessness.

The running group called "Back on My Feet," includes those in recovery and volunteers who offer their support.

The morning run, which starts with a prayer circle at 5:30 a.m., is part of their recovery. It's their therapy.

Bates, a former high school runner who has been battling addiction for 20 years, says he finds clarity and connection to God when he runs.

While running in the city, Bates said he sees reminders of his struggles.

"That was me a year ago, but for the grace of God, there go I," Bates said. "Sometimes it makes me sad seeing people that just don't have hope. I've been there when I didn't have hope."

Bates found hope at Helping Up Mission where he's received professional counseling and faith formation to help him in his recovery.

Now clean, he will soon graduate from the residential recovery program.

Back on his feet, running has been a big part of restoring Bates' health, faith and mission to help others like him.

"I know the best way I can do that for me, personally, is with running," Bates said. "It makes me the best version of myself because it puts me in a positive mind frame to start the day and lets me help other people because I'm there with my teammates every morning listening to them and helping them with things also."

Scotty Cooper, who is in the Helping Up program, sought help for himself after his son died of a drug overdose.

He told WJZ that the morning run gives him peace.

"It's good for my health," Cooper said. "It's good for my mind because while you're running, you're in your own zone and you're doing your own thing. So when I'm done, I feel good."

Cooper recommends "Helping Up Mission" to anybody going through addiction and homelessness.

"I came here to get help," he said. "It's been a beautiful thing, a wonderful journey and I'd recommend it for anybody that needs help, to come back and do this."

Elisabeth Abdoo, a volunteer, has been joining the "Back on my Feet" runs for seven years.

"I think, when we're running, a lot of people's barriers come down and we just talk about anything in our lives, like our families to what we're doing for the day and relations, whatever comes to mind," Abdoo said.

For more information on "Helping Up Mission," visit this website.

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