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Champions of Health & Fitness 2010

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In our first annual Champions of Health & Fitness awards, we salute the role models, innovators, and activists who are helping Americans shape up, live healthy, and reach for the best. Winners include Michelle Obama, Serena Williams, Donna Karan, and more.

Running Buddy: Anne Mahlum

Runners are a tough breed, and Anne Mahlum is no exception. When the men outside a homeless shelter started hollering at her as she jogged past, she didn't change her morning route to avoid them. The hard-charging Philadelphia marketing consultant steered straight to them and suggested they high-step it -- with her. "Logging miles has always made me feel good," Mahlum says. "I wanted to share that with these guys, so I offered to train with them three times a week." Nine took her up on it.

Today that running club has bloomed into the nonprofit organization Back On My Feet (BOMF), which has 13 full-time staffers, 1,000 volunteers, and 13 teams spread throughout Philly, Baltimore and, this month, Washington, D.C. (Chapters in Boston and Chicago are in the works.) Thanks to donations, fundraising events, and corporate sponsorships, Mahlum's mission has also expanded: In addition to helping members get strong physically and mentally, she now provides them with job training and placement, housing, and bank accounts.

Through BOMF, 64 men and women found work last year, 35 began job training, and 42 moved into their own homes. Last November, 63 members ran in the Philadelphia Marathon & Half Marathon. "The sense of accomplishment you get from finishing a race or going a mile can change your life," Mahlum says. It's a lesson everyone can follow. -- Rachel Sturtz

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shell813@gmail.com wrote:

What a great story - kuddos!

3/26/2010 01:16:40 PM Report Abuse

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