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People who experienced homelessness participate in America's Finest City Half-Marathon

The annual America’s Finest City Half-Marathon and 5K kicked off early Sunday morning.

SAN DIEGO — The annual America’s Finest City Half-Marathon and 5K kicked off early Sunday morning starting in Point Loma and ending in Balboa Park.

Alondra Padilla participated in the race and is a San Diego mother of two children. She said she was in a domestic violence situation that left her with nowhere to turn.

"In that moment, I felt alone and my world went down. In that moment, I say help God, take me out of this situation," said Padilla.

Padilla joined the Mission Academy at the San Diego Rescue Mission, a one year program that serves people who experience homelessness. It offers three semesters of wellness, job training, and help with finding housing and employment.

On Sunday, Padilla, her kids and 40 others involved in the Up and Running training program are racing in America’s Finest City Half-Marathon.

"I think this is my last thing to do. Run this half-marathon with my kids," said Padilla.

"For someone who is homeless, the thought of actually running a half-marathon seems so out of bounds, but through this program they can gain confidence and self-esteem and be proud of themselves and have something to look back on," said Paul Armstrong, Vice President of Programs at the San Diego Rescue Mission.

Padilla said she hopes her story can help others who may be going through the same situation and are seeking help.

"I can feel a second chance for seeing the world different like another vision. We don’t need nothing, just stay healthy and stay together and everything is going to be better for us. That is my mind in this moment," said Padilla.

For Padilla, crossing the finish line is symbolic of starting a new chapter.

"I'm so happy we learned and we have a hope for us. Now, we know we are not alone, never, never again," said Padilla.

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