When one thinks about skid row, the last thing that would come to mind is running through the streets of Los Angeles to prepare for a marathon half way around the world.
The Honorable Judge Craig Matthews spends his entire day sentencing convicted criminals from the Los Angeles Superior Court. When he invites these skid row felons to join him on Mondays and Thursdays at 5:45am...the results will blow you mind.
Everyone in America is literally one paycheck away from being homeless...EVERYONE! You never know when an expected hardship blows your way and for some, the trajectory of their lives is changed for a short period of time or a lifetime. However for a budding artist (David Askew), a single mom (Rebecca Hayes), a former musician (Ben Shirley), a former gangbanger (Rafael Cabrera) and a DTLA business owner (Mody Diop) pounding through the streets of Los Angeles is a race to fighting their way out of the homelessness, addiction and prison system that they currently and previously are trying to not re-experience again in life.
With the assistance of Judge Mitchell and numerous anonymous donors, this running club has circled the globe hitting the pavements of Africa, Vietnam, Italy and next their stop...Jerusalem. But even the Judge has his own obstacle to overcome. Trading in his robe for running shoes makes his struggle just as challenging, as his body breaks down from the stress of running for decades.
The press was invited to go on a run with the Judge and his running club and needless to say as well-intentioned as I may have been...I have yet to join them. Having actually completed a marathon some years back, I'm actually curious to see if I can hang. However, I did meet up at the Midnight Mission with Judge Matthews, Rafael Cabrera, Director Mark Hayes, as well as, producers Gabbi Hayes and Doug Blush to speak about how a LA Times article became this amazingly heartfelt documentary. Here are some excerpts...
Skid Row Marathon makes you believe in humanity amongst a society that is slowly derailing its way back to the 1950's. The homeless population in Los angles since shooting this doc has risen from 47,000 to 57,000. So, when you see that something as simple as running gives these people hope and purpose, your heart fills up with joy.
The next time you drive or walk past a homeless person in a tent, recognize the fact this individual is first and foremost a human being. Judge Matthews believes that everyone deserves a second chance to make the most out of this one life you are given. Running on skid row gives a few select men and women the opportunity to live their best life if only for five miles twice a week.
The homeless population in the county of Los Angeles represents the largest concentration of homeless in the nation. It is a complex problem with no easy fixes. Just because it’s a difficult problem doesn’t mean we can’t do something now.
Take a moment to demonstrate the power that each of us possess to affect change in our own way, even with a problem as demoralizing and overwhelming as homelessness. If you are among those that are suffering, Judge Matthews and the filmmakers want to inspire you into taking action as a means to overcome your own demons through running or other non-destructive pursuits.
To find out more about this amazing film and how to contribute, pop over to www.skidrowmarathon.com.