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Gateway Runner Spotlight: Rafael

Every couple of weeks, we like to recognize an individual from our program at Gateway Community Services, a nonprofit drug and alcohol treatment center in Jacksonville, Florida. This week, we're highlighting Rafael, who ran cross country and played soccer in high school until his addiction took him down the wrong road. He's getting it back though, congratulations Rafael, dream big and Runwell!

From Runwell ambassador Michael Martinez, who leads the Gateway group runs with Kim Pawelek:

"He has been in our program for a few months now and initially was hampered by an injured knee, but it's healing up nicely and he just finished his first half marathon 2 weeks ago at the Jax Bank Marathon! It had been exciting to witness his growth and seeing him regain his life again."

Rafael's story, by Rafael:

"I started running when I was 13 years old and won my age group the first 5k I ever entered. I was a soccer player from the age of 6 and that gave me stamina. In my junior year of high school I started racing competitively and placed 2nd and 4th respectively in the 880 and the mile at the state championship and also qualified for the 2 mile distance as well. During my senior year in high school I ran cross country to enhance my stamina for soccer and ended up 2nd in state (Florida) and named Brevard County cross country runner of the year. I was awarded athletic scholarships for both cross country and soccer, however, due to my addiction to alcohol I lost my scholarships and was eventually kicked out of school.


From then on until 2015 my life was a blur until I got sober 4 months ago. I entered treatment at Gateway and began walking/running with RUNWELL about 8 weeks ago and have been inspired and coached by Kim and Mike. Running has not only taken me to new heights, but it has given me some self worth and makes me positive about helping others. I recently completed my first half marathon and have been running and coached by Mike Martinez. Running with RUNWELL has given me more aspirations to stay sober and excel in life!"

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