CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A Charlotte woman is changing lives by helping others learn her craft, including one of the cutest 4 year olds you would ever meet.
She's an endurance athlete, teaching people who are facing some hard times that running works.
Four-year-old Alex is a runner. Not the kind that darts from his parents but an actual, three-mile- at-a-time runner. He and his family run together twice a week.
“It really is all about teamwork and family,” says Meredith Dolhare. Dolhare is an endurance athlete, mother of two and the founder of Running Works.
“It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” she says.
At Charlotte's Urban Ministry, Dolhare works with runners like Alex and his family, who are homeless. She gets them back on their feet.
“That time I was homeless, I'd been homeless for 14-and-a-half months at the time,” said Chris Jackson.
He's been running with Dolhare for more than a year.
“They didn’t let me give up thanks to people in the program,” he said.
He's lost 75 pounds, but gained so much more. He now has a job, a home and recruits others into the program.
“It’s been amazing, the support they gave me, the love they showed. You can make it. You can get back on your feet,” he says.
They run through uptown, stopping at the arena to do what little Alex calls the “Rocky steps.” It's a moment of triumph where his dad, Jermaine Gilmer, can forget the family is homeless and struggling.
Gilmer says, “It builds my self esteem, my belief in myself, my belief I can overcome any obstacle.”
He too has lost weight, is working on finding housing and doing his best to keep up with the group’s mascot.
Gilmer says of Alex, “He’s a born runner and every single day he's been going faster and further, and I've just made it my job to make sure I can keep up with him.”
Program founder Dolhare says,” I really think that the kid is going to make something of himself. He’s got this face of determination and he embodies everything that Running Works is. Discipline, confidence, a sense of teamwork, he’s got self respect already.”
It would seem, running works.
The Running Works program provides participants with shoes and running clothes. All of that is donated from the community. For more information check out the Web site.