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Scotiabank runner beats the odds—from homeless and addicted to mentor, teacher and running group leader

Vancouver, BC—This Sunday, June 23rd, when Brendan McLellan runs his third Scotiabank Half marathon, he won’t be alone. He will be joined by men in recovery who are where he was just two years, whom he has helped to prepare their bodies for the Half or 5K distance, and their minds for the challenging journey that sobriety requires. 
Four years ago, Brendan was homeless, addicted and on a suicidal mission. Not long before gaining sobriety, Brendan went on a 15-day, $12,000 sleepless drug-binge, which he had intended to complete with jumping off the Pattullo bridge. But fortunately, he got arrested just prior. Soon after Brendan enrolled in Union Gospel Mission’s recovery program where found sobriety—and running. This Sunday he runs to help raise money this the charity he credits with saving him from the streets—and most likely from death. 
In just a few short years, Brendan life has done a complete 180. He not only maintains his sobriety and works full-time, but he has become a teacher, mentor and leader to so many who struggle as he once did. He’s also progressed from avid runner to marathoner and leads a running group every Wednesday.
“Brendan is one of the most determined people I know,” says Steve Fike, a friend from UGM. “We have been through a lot together over the past two years. Brendan is a true friend and an inspiration. He’s taught me how to ‘live life on life's terms’ again—clean and sober!”
Brendan dedicates time each week to teach and facilitate classes for a well-known sobriety group. There he helps others with specific steps in their recovery. He is president of UGM’s Alumni Association which exists to give back to others.  They support those new in recovery, and offer service work at UGM and other places needing volunteer help. Brendan is also a sponsor to four men who are recovering from drugs and/or alcohol abuse. 
“I work with a lot of guys that have relapsed, so my phone constantly rings off the hook,” he says, “but the investment is worth it. People were there and reached out to me when I was in my darkest place, and I want to be there for others. Now, life is absolutely fantastic. It just keeps getting better. I used to be so selfish. I’ve given that all up to God and my life is completely transformed.”
Brendan’s passion and dedication for helping others led him to not only to facilitate in recovery, but also in athletics. He joined UGM’s running group training program, where four days a weeks, different running group leaders take community members and staff on a run, jog or walk, helping them train for the Scotiabank 5K or half marathon. Brendan will run his third Scotiabank Half, raising money for UGM’s life-changing programs for women and children—which offers afterschool care, mentorship, art therapy, shelter, summer camp and more.
An athlete as a teenager, born and raised in New Westminster, Brendan discovered a love of running while in UGM’s recovery program as he worked through the journey to stay clean and sober. He found it to be a perfect outlet for him, as well as an activity that brought a lot of healing. 
“When I was out there in my addiction, I couldn’t look people in the eye,” he says.  “I thought they knew I was no good. But when I’d run the Sea Wall, I’d see other runners and they’d nod and say ‘hi’ and I felt like I was a part of something. I felt accomplished. Now I run for me.”
As Brendan finds joy in sober living, faith, reconciled relationships and running, he finds even deeper joy, in giving back what he’s learned to others.  
“I’m sure there will be hard times again, but right now, it just keeps getting better and better,” says Brendan. “I have no complaints and I could be happier.” 
UGM is still shy of its $50,000 fundraising goal this year, and could really use the public’s help.  Join team UGM to walk or run the 5K or Half-Marathon or donate to someone who already is by visiting: www.ugm.ca/run. 
To donate directly to a specific runner and to watch things change in real time visit: 
Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing the lives of men, women, and children for over 70 years. Through its 7 locations in Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides counseling, education, safe housing, and alcohol and drug recovery to those struggling with poverty, homelessness, and addiction. The heart of the mission is to demonstrate God’s transforming love, ease the burden of the most vulnerable, rebuild the lives of the broken, and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. To find out more, visit www.ugm.ca.
To read Brendan’s full story: 
10/06/2013
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