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Michael Barnes

Back on My Feet Bash

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They came in their running shoes. And their cocktail attire. Several hundred backers of Back on My Feet, the group that helps the homeless through running, gathered at the JW Marriott to toast its third anniversary in town.

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Alexis Lorick and Amy Emerson at the Back on My Feet Bash.

Back on My Feet helps with health, employment and permanent housing. The Member of the Year, Dorwin “Raymon” Hargrove, was the subject of a previous Out & About column.

Here’s peek:

Sitting in front of his mother’s house in Houston one night, Dorwin Hargrove, who had lived a pretty rough life up to that point, reached a turning point.

“I couldn’t look left. I couldn’t look right. I couldn’t look forward,” he says. “I looked up and begged: ‘God, release me from this bondage.’”

Soon after that, Hargrove, 43, moved to Austin. He found his way to the Salvation Army outpost on South Congress Avenue; but he found they dealt with hard-luck cases by appointment only. Hargrove, however, would not be turned away by a staff member.

“I had to get into there,” he says. “She gave me an opportunity. I wasn’t going to let her down. I felt like I had a guardian in my life.”

Newly sober, Hargrove stayed connected with the Salvation Army, then took the next big step by joining Back on My Feet, a nonprofit group that uses running to help the homeless get healthy, find employment and secure housing.

This night, however, Hargrove was dressed in a snappy suit. He retains his job at Magnolia Cafe, but hopes to regain his commercial driving license. Hargrove spoke directly and forcefully about his life experiences. He told me personally about running the Austin Half-Marathon the next day and how he could bring his grandmother up from Houston to witness it.

Not coincidently, the winner of the community  honors was John Conley, head of the Austin Marathon and Half-Marathon. His deeds were propagated by nonprofit treasure Kay Morris, founder of Marathon Kids, which gets hundreds of thousands of kids to exercise and eat right.

We live in a cool city.