What is Mile in My Shoes?

Mile in My Shoes (MiMS) brings together residents of Minneapolis with diverse backgrounds through the power of running. Based in homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities, MiMS serves as a catalyst for community-building, health & wellness promotion, leadership & self-efficacy, and spurring personal & political engagement within the non-homeless community.  Through running with one another, our resident members & run mentors not only find common ground, but begin to learn from and reach out to one another for support. As they transform themselves, they transform one another. 

Our Mission: Running Together to Change Perceptions & Change Lives.

History of Mile in My Shoes

Mile in My Shoes began its first team in May 2014 by Mishka Vertin & Michael Jurasits, two volunteers, in partnership with Catholic Charities Higher Ground of Minneapolis.   

The first residential members – shelter guests - were given running shoes & workout gear in exchange for their commitment to show up at least two mornings a week to run. Concurrently, volunteers from the local running community were recruited. The first run, held in May 2014, included six shelter guests, two Higher Ground staff members, and eight volunteer runners - aka Run Mentors.

In November 2014, Mile in My Shoes became a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and created a board of directors. 

MiMS launched a team at Emanuel Housing, a transitional housing facility in Minneapolis, for the nine-month 2015 season. At the end of 2015, Emanuel Housing staff took over the reins of leading the team, and while Emanuel Housing no longer has an official MiMS team, MiMS will continue to support and engage the team Alumni. 

In July of 2016, the youngest MiMS team began at YouthLink Nicollet Square, a transitional housing facility for youth in South Minneapolis. For the 2017 Season, the MiMS family will be doubling with the addition of two new teams: Team Volunteers of America RRC (VOA) & Team Sarah’s. 

Since MiMS’ launch, forty-one Resident Members have completed an official race, and three have completed at least one marathon. 100% of Resident Members stated that they see themselves differently than when they began Mile in My Shoes, and 85% feel more connected to their community. We have had over 100 Run Mentors, 80% of whom have paced a Member in a race at least once.  

Mile in My Shoes Goals

While the weekly runs may seem simple, the impact they have is multi-layered. Everything we do at Mile in My Shoes - the runs, the events, the meetings, even the “Woo” - serves to support these higher goals: 


  • Facilitate healthy & meaningful relationships between Residential Members & Run Mentors in order to impact perceptions of homelessness, and resident member engagement in the broader community. 
  • Increase resident members’ positive social interactions – that are not centered on their treatment or social service engagement - with people not experiencing homelessness.

Creating Lifelong Runners

  • Resident Members have tools & personal incentive to continue running/walking/exercise beyond the scope of Mile in My Shoes.

Leadership & Self-Efficacy

  • Increase opportunities for Resident Members to exercise their leadership skills.

Personal & Political Engagement in Homelessness Issues

  • Increase Run Mentors’ overall awareness of issues facing the Twin Cities homeless or at-risk population 
  • Increase Run Mentor participation in political & personal advocacy for homelessness.