The history behind the Warm Hands Warm Hearts Run

In 2014 I was training for my very first marathon, 42.2 km of pounding the pavement. I would put on my sneakers and run from my home in the Westmount area and the more I trained the further I would run. I would add distance by running a couple of extra blocks each time and soon I was running zigzags up-and-down the blocks in downtown. And as I formed my regular route throughout The months of training. I got to be familiar with a man who lived on the streets. He would always smile at me when I passed and I would say “good morning or good afternoon.”

His name is Jesse and he’s been living on the street for many years.

after the marathon was over I still ran the route 2 to 3 times a week as part of what was now my regular training. In November while running by myself I passed by Jesse’s bench and didn’t see him until half a block later where I found him warming his hands in the exhaust of a building. The dirty air and fumes that were being expelled from this building were surrounding him as he tried to keep warm. It was there that I wanted to hand him my mitts right then. But I didn’t want to risk my own safety by running in -17 with no mitts to protect MY hands. So I thought why not getting some gloves and run with them in my pack until I found him. I decided for safety and to help more than just Jesse I would invite some friends to come run with me. Two weeks later in -35c 10 runners and 2 support crew met at Churchill square wearing backpacks filled with gloves.

We ran between shelters handing out mitts and scarves to anyone who needed them. Refilling our packs from the car as Mike followed us around with the kids. We ran over to Boyle street last and we soon realized that our small amount of gloves didn’t even help all the people we saw outside. As we ran back to Churchill square where my friend Dee was waiting in her car with Hot Chocolate, we talked about what we had just witnessed and realized the real need in our own city. It was so cold out that day but we knew it was something special we were doing. We were talking to people one on one, on a more personal level. Looking them in the eye, treating them with respect and giving something that can mean a big difference each winter.

That first year a handful of runners handed out a couple dozen pairs of gloves and since then we’ve grown in leaps and bounds. I’ve made it an annual event and partnered with a few great companies like Running Room, Edmonton Police Services and the running community in Alberta.

Each backpack we hand out contains something to keep your head, your hands and your neck warm. plus a clean pair of socks, a toothbrush, toothpaste, some toiletries and a $5 coffee card (for a warm drink and a warm place to sit for an hour). This year is our 6th Run/walk in Edmonton November 16th and the 1st in Calgary November 23rd. Donations are being collected until November 10th in Edmonton and November 16th in Calgary. We are still accepting registrations for those wanting to participate in the run/walk. Click the City you’d like to register for, only $20 until October 31st.


Submit To Receive Free Files!