When Alexandra Soto crosses the finish line on October 18, she’ll be honoring a man who ran a very different kind of race—and won.
Alex first heard of Homeboy Industries while she was on a walk near her home in downtown Los Angeles. “Once I saw Homeboy Industries on the street, I started following them on Facebook. The posts showed that they were doing good things, providing jobs to people who are trying to transform and rehabilitate themselves.”
Homeboy Industries’ mission “hit the sweet spot” for Alex, who began looking for ways to get involved. She soon signed up as a team captain for the "Every Angeleno Counts" 5K.
An important mission
For Alex, this is an important mission. “An uncle of mine was in and out of gangs. He was the youngest uncle on my mother’s side. There were eleven kids. My uncle got into trouble every now and then, and this turned into going in and out of jail. For us growing up, it was sad because he’d come around and then he’d have to go back again.”
When Alex was a teenager, things started to change. “I saw my uncle really, really trying. He volunteered at the NASCAR Speedway. He helped out at my brother’s school.” Then, in 2006, tragedy struck. Alex’s uncle passed away suddenly in a car accident. “It was hard on my mom, on all of us. But we were so glad he didn’t die in jail. He didn’t die in any kind of gang activity. I know that in the last nine months of his life, he was at peace.”
Alex sees a strong connection between her uncle’s story and the stories of those who come to Homeboy Industries looking to make a fresh start. “When I walk into Homeboy, people look rough on the exterior. My uncle had gang tattoos and prison tattoos, but his heart—it was a good heart. As a young kid, as a teen, now as an adult, I can see that. It doesn’t matter what someone looks like—what matters is what this person is doing in their life, what steps they’re taking to make a change.”
Alex is actively recruiting more runners for her team. “I’m sending out the link to my page. I’ve sent a mass Facebook message to my friends. This weekend I’ll be creating a Facebook event. With strength in numbers, we’ll be unstoppable!”
Alex’s advice for first-time runners? Running is “mostly a mental thing. I have to start getting into shape myself. First I’ll start by walking uphill on a treadmill, then I’ll start jogging, and finally I’ll start running. Little by little. It’s like that old saying. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Some of the strongest transformations take place little by little, step by step. Alex says, “You can make a change. One person or many, it doesn’t matter—what matters is making a change in the right direction.”
To learn more about becoming a team captain for the 2014 5k please email email@example.com
Homeboy Industries is the largest & most successful gang rehabilitation and reentry program in the world.
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Have questions about the
Every Angeleno Counts 5K & Festival?
323-526-1254 Ext. 398