Up bright and early on Saturday mornings, Aaron, Antonio, Santiago, Ian and Ken, all residents of Stepping Stone, are ready to go when Andy Kleinke, Club Chair, or David Hallen, former Vice Chair, picks them up and heads for Sixth & Laurel and the club’s Saturday runs and walks. “It’s fun and healthy to be with dedicated people on Saturday mornings” enthuses Ken, a past club member and a walker, who is a recent Stepping Stone resident.
Once at 6th & Laurel, the club’s Saturday 8 AM ritual begins with introductions, announcements and stretching, then pushes-off for runs and walks through Balboa Park, around Hillcrest, to downtown and San Diego Bay, and yes, up the Laurel St. hill, all to reconvene, and thence on to a well-earned breakfast cum camaraderie at Big City Bagels in Hillcrest.
Aaron runs 10K, and says 10 miles is his top distance, Antonio, a club member in 2012, is a Mission Bay Triathlon vet, and a 5K and10Ker. He likes the University run as do Ian a four-miler and Santiago, who ran the El Centro 8K.
Founded in 1976, Stepping Stone, located in City Heights, is a non-profit alcohol and drug recovery residential agency that offers a variety of treatment and recovery programs to members of the LGBT community. Stepping Stone’s residence has a capacity for 30 people and operates its programs over six-month cycles.
David Hallen is enthused by the interaction between the club and Stepping Stone that began last year and points to the results: outreach, socialization and healthy running and walking. He commends the cooperation between the club and Stepping Stone management “to make it happen” by granting permission for residents to participate in the Saturday runs, walks and breakfasts, adding, “it’s a fun experience for me of outreach and service to our community that benefits both organizations.”
Summing up, Andy, via email believes: “It’s great to see Stepping Stone residents attending the Saturday runs consistently over the past few months. I would love to see the relationship between FRWSD and Stepping Stone continue to grow because both organizations have similar missions: to enhance the quality of life for members of the LGBT community.