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 re-entry centers for people exiting incarceration, MiMS is as a catalyst for community-building, boosting health and wellness, building leadership and self-efficacy, and spurring personal and social action. By running together, our Resident Members and 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
We run together to change perceptions and change lives.

Our Vision
Our teams will build bonds, boost wellness, and spark social action by bringing the power of running to people experiencing homelessness and other barriers.

Our History

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

The first residential members – shelter guests – were given running shoes and 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. 

Over the years, MiMS expanded to many more teams, including Team Youthlink, a transitional apartment building for young people exiting the foster care system, Teams Volunteers of America Southside and Roseville, Residential Reentry Centers for men and women completing sentences of incarceration, Team Sarah’s ... an Oasis for Women for immigrant and refugee women, and Team Higher Ground St. Paul.

Since MiMS’ founding, over 400 people experiencing homelessness and other barriers have laced up new shoes and run their very first mile. More than 200 have completed a 5K race, and dozens have completed half-marathons and full marathons. 100% of Resident Members share 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 300 Run Mentors, 80% of whom have paced a Member in at least one race.  

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: 

Relationship-Building  

  • Build healthy and meaningful relationships between Resident Members and Run Mentors to shift 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 and personal incentive to continue running, walking, and other exercise beyond the scope of Mile in My Shoes.

Leadership and Self-Efficacy

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

Personal and 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 and personal advocacy for homelessness.