CHICAGO (CBS) — Future runs on Chicago’s west side.
CBS 2’s Jackie Kostek has the story of a man on a mission to change the story in his Garfield Park neighborhood through health and wellness. He finds it while he and the group go for long weekly runs.
Before sunrise in Garfield Park, Jackie Hoffman finished the group.
“It’s surrounded by love. That’s the most important thing that people get when they come to Peace Runners; a place to participate, and they can just express themselves, and we love them the same with themselves,” he said.
Hoffman is the founder of Peace Runners 773, a whole-life health movement on the West Side that meets people where they are, in order to promote a whole community.
“We know that if people are moving, we can start organizing them like food. ” he said.
The whole idea for the project came from a breakthrough made by a single person about three years ago.
“My mother inspired me first. When I came home and found out she had health problems, I wanted to help her,” said Hoffman. “I changed his diet, and challenged him to a mile a day, and then just saw the progress he made.”
At that time, Hoffman found himself in a change, and in need of a change. A rising star player, Hoffman played Division 1 football in Florida, and had a workout with the Bears. But the real hit came when he got home.
“It was coming from ESPN — watching me on ESPN — and then coming home to work at Walgreens, and people coming in and being like, ‘Jackie Hoffman?’ And I’d be like, ‘oooh.’ But it had to work for me, and it made me think to myself, and he said, ‘what more life is coming? What’s yours?’ “he said.
By helping his mother drop 60 pounds and go from 13 pounds to two, Hoffman helped himself find the root cause, and the urgent need to fix the low life expectancy in the West side compared to other parts of the city.
“With my own health scare, it’s like, deciding I have a goal. I want to live to 100. That’s my goal. So, what do I have to do to make it happen?” said Peace Runners member Mattie Buckley.
Buckley, a two-time breast cancer survivor, started walking with Hoffman’s mother two years ago, and is the oldest Peace Runner to train for Bank of America Chicago 13.1 half marathon on the West Coast in June; he was running more miles per week than he had been running before.
“It feels good,” he said.
And when people feel good, they do good, and it can change everything.
“Most of the West Side community, all we hear about is guns and violence and things like that. And it gives people hope,” said the Peace member. Runners 773 are Brandon Nolan.
“I want my legacy to be someone who makes a difference, and I think it’s more than just being an NFL player, if I’m making a difference in society, and making a difference in the impact on Chicago. So I think there’s a lot more to that. So I’m grateful,” Hoffman said.