Houston Marathon Foundation donates 80 spots in 5K race to women in need

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This year, the foundation gave the Bel Inizio Charity 80 spots to participate in the ABB 5K race. (KTRK)

The city is gearing up for the Chevron Houston Marathon this weekend. But before the big race, runners can participate in the ABB 5K on Saturday.

The Houston Marathon Foundation started the ABB 5K in 2008 to create a healthy Houston community. One of their many goals is to sponsor runners who are less fortunate. This year, the foundation gave the Bel Inizio Charity 80 spots to participate in the race.

"Bel Inizio is a non-profit that was created to help disadvantaged women boost their confidence and life skills through fitness and nutrition education," said Bel Inizio's executive director Theresa Strong. "The whole package is designed to help women feel good about thelmselves, to learn how to eat properly, to pass that onto their children, and get a beautiful beginning."

Bel Inizio partners with several local charities, and Dress For Success Houston jumped at the opportunity to offer more healthy lifestyle tips to their members.

"The program allows them to work within where they are in their athletic abilities and see that they can grow when they stay committed to something. And that commitment goes into your professional world, personal world, and your health
and wellness goals," said Dress For Success Houston vice president Lauren Levicki Courville.

Judy Pilgrim joined the Bel Inizio running group a few months ago and meets at Dress For Success two nights a week to run.

"You don't need any experience in running. You can be a serious couch potato," Pilgrim said.

Since joining, she has improved her professional skills and is back to school on a scholarship with hopes of becoming a social worker.

"It makes me sleep better at night. I feel better about myself. My body looks better. I'm really proud of my 3.3 GPA," Pilgrim said.

The program also has coaches to help guide the woman. One of the coaches is a former member of the group who loved it so much that she now volunteers.

"It helped my self-esteem. It helped me turn negative things into positive things. It helped with manage my stress," said Bel Inizio graduate and volunteer Holly Stafford.

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