When Wenche Wahl founded Dock St. Walking and Running last year with the goal to inspire homeless and everyday people to come together and turn their lives around by leading healthy, active lives, the club was filled with many people suffering from a sense of hopelessness and despair. Still, walkers and runners continued to show up on Dock Street each week, going on two to four-mile runs around Tacoma’s waterfront and developing relationships in the meantime – some for the first time in years.
“In the beginning, many of them did not know how to interact, and were afraid to be close to people,” Wahl said. “We’ve seen such great progress this year, and we’ve become like a family now. They really take care of each other.”
Five of the Dock Street Walking and Running members are running the infamous Sound to Narrows 12K race on June 9, and three others are preparing for the 5K race. The group regularly volunteers in races throughout the city, in order to waive registration fees and give back to their cause. The group competes in about one race per month on average and, most recently, runners from Dock St. Walking and Running came in third place in the Tacoma City Marathon relay race.
The club became an official 501(c)3 nonprofit in December, and enjoys the support of local running shops and individuals and also has a year-long sponsorship with Cliff Bars to provide fuel before the runs.
Throughout the past year of the club’s existence, runners have not only shown progress in health and fitness, but many have found housing, gone back to school, and found work. “Many people didn’t believe this group could be a success, but when I see all these homeless runners still staying active, and they’re happy and progressing from week to week, I know it has been a success,” Wahl said. “When I see that they’re happy, I’m happy.”
The team is celebrating its one-year anniversary June 13 at 10 a.m. with an event on Dock St., where sponsors, volunteers, runners and supporters can come together and celebrate the team’s success.
To follow the team’s progress in the future, “Like” the group’s Facebook page for weekly updates.
Dock St. Walking and Running accepts donations of shoes, clothes, food and money. For more information or to donate, visit www.dockstwalkrun.org.