*Philadelphia, PA* -- Anne Mahlum is a veteran marathoner who rose early most mornings to run on the dark streets of Philadelphia--often with homeless men cheering her on as she passed their shelter.
Instead of just waving and smiling, Mahlum thought she'd try and get them running with her. She contacted the shelter, got donations of running gear, and in July 2007 the Back On My Feet running club hit the streets.
The first day, Mahlum led nine shelter residents in a mile-long run. Today, Back on My Feet has teams at five Philadelphia shelters, with more than 90 members and more than 400 volunteers. The simple concept has developed into a comprehensive program that offers connections to job training, educational scholarships and housing assistance. The benefits of Back on My Feet are earned through the currency of attitude, commitment, teamwork, respect, dedication and leadership.
CNN Heroes and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter honored Mahlum at City Hall on Thursday, November 13, 2008, in anticipation of "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" later this month that will spotlight ordinary citizens accomplishing extraordinary deeds. Mahlum was named one of ten CNN Heroes honorees last month, out of nearly 4,000 nominations from 75 countries and is the only honoree with an athletically-focused endeavor in the CNN Heroes Top 10.
"Running really is a metaphor for life," said Mahlum. "There is always another mile. You just have to take it one step at a time."
A Blue Ribbon Panel made up of distinguished humanitarians and leaders, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jane Goodall and Earvin "Magic" Johnson, selected Mahlum for her work to give people experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia a sense of community and accomplishment through physical fitness. She will be awarded $25,000 and is eligible for the $100,000 prize that will be bestowed upon the CNN Hero of the Year later this month.
The public will select the "CNN Hero of the Year" via voting at the CNN Heroes site at www.CNN.com/Heroes through Thursday, November 20 at 6 a.m. Eastern. At a November gala, CNN will honor the 10 heroes and reveal the CNN Hero of the Year. Hosted by Anderson Cooper from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute will air globally on CNN, CNN International and CNN en Español on Thanksgiving, November 27, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT).