Cecilia Castellano, of Perrysburg, on one of her runs.
In the summer of 2011, Cecilia Castellano couldn't run a mile, and she even had to ask her husband what you do with your arms while running because it was something new to her.
"I couldn't run for five minutes," the Perrysburg mother of three said. "I would see 13.1 or 26.2 bumper stickers [for half and full marathon runners], and I thought they were Bible verses I just didn't know from what book."
After two years of running, Ms. Castellano's is ready to truly understand what those bumper stickers mean when she runs the Cleveland Marathon on Sunday. She said she is not doing it for herself though, but for a homeless organization for which she volunteers.
Family Promise of Greater Toledo mission is to take care of homeless families during the day and try to get them a stable place to live. During the transition, families sleep at religious facilities, such as churches. Ms. Castellano is a volunteer coordinator at Zoar Lutheran Church in Perrysburg where the church has provided dinners and turned educational rooms into sleeping space for homeless families.
Right now, there are no homeless families to aid at the church because Family Promise has lacked funds. The organization that started in Toledo in 1992 stopped providing services to homeless families in November, 2011. It is trying to reorganize and raise money to continue its outreach efforts. That is where Ms. Castellano's marathon steps in: she has raised $2,798 for the organization through her run.
She decided to run for something other than herself when she felt it was all about herself when she ran.
"When you run so much you think, plan, complain all about running. It is a huge thing in your life," Ms. Castellano's said. "I felt really self-centered and I was sick of [running]. But during a run while praying, I felt God leading me to make it about something other than me."
After the first three months of running in 2011, she hated it. But she enjoyed the mental challenge of mind over matter and pain. Now she is doing it for others. On her Web site where people can make donations, it says how $25 would give a child one night of shelter and $250 would provide 10 nights of shelter for two children.
Elizabeth Tore, executive director of Family Promise of Greater Toledo, said she expects the organization to be back up and running shortly. She thought last month it might be back, but plans for a shelter fell through. The organization is looking for a location with showers, near busing, and with office space of about 1,500 to 2,000 square feet.
"Cecilia's [fundraising] is huge," Ms. Tore said. "How often do you get an individual do this, and not make it about them. The community needs to step up and help others like Cecilia is doing and say I have a problem with homelessness."