This is personal for him, because from 2017 to 2019 he was incarcerated four times, kicked out of homeless shelters, and living on the streets for a period of time. Being incarcerated significantly impacts your mental health and well-being by creating new mental health issues and worsening pre-existing conditions. He is beyond grateful to have found fitness as a productive outlet to clear his mind, build character, and strengthen his mindset, which is why he has chosen to use this opportunity as a way to give back to those who feel helpless, suicidal, or are lacking their sense of purpose after being released from incarceration.
To learn more about Spencer and why he's creating this fundraiser, we have asked him a few questions to hear more about his personal story and overall mission.
Why Thrive DC for your fundraiser? What should others know about it?
I knew I wanted to donate to an organization that helps with reentry since this is something I struggled with tremendously. I like Thrive DC because they are local to me so it was a great opportunity to give back to my immediate community. Also, after reaching out to the staff they were incredibly genuine and sincere in working with me and supporting this venture. This organization, rooted in good will, truly represents a humane approach towards making positive changes in society. They do this by working to address issues like homelessness and recidivism, which are often overlooked by those unaffected, and as someone who has experienced both it is both appreciated and inspiring beyond words.
What was it like coming home after incarceration? What was it like socially and professionally for you?
I came home with a completely new perspective on my life and focused much of my energy on maintaining a positive and optimistic outlook. In one way, it was somewhat refreshing to be back at square one with nothing more to lose, however I quickly faced many hurdles socially and professionally. Incarceration was extremely traumatic on several levels, and having no way to explain this to someone who can't relate, I learned to focus on what was within my control and prioritized my mental health. I still experience judgements from others about my past, but as my overall mental health has improved I now recognize the trauma as a necessary part of my journey that made me a stronger man today. I choose to remain patient and grateful, rather than resentful or frustrated. In addition, I am still facing professional obstacles as I was recently offered a financial advisor career but could not pass the background check. My reaction was to let this motivate me to stay resilient and to get more creative in regards to a career path.
What do you have to say to others who may be facing the same challenges?
We are not defined by our past, and no human is perfect. Give yourself time to heal, practice patience and remain consistent in striving for your goals. View your adversity as a gift, not a hindrance, and use that to propel your life forward- whether that be by improving your morale, serving others, offering your experience in a way that benefits society, etc. Focus on progression and your overall direction rather than your pace, slow and steady wins the race.
Why has exercise/running helped you overcome? How can it help others?
Running has revealed to me that we are capable of much more than our mind tells us. It has also taught me the value of consistency and allows me to practice patience. I think running can help others by showing them the importance of self discipline, and how integrating that into your life will develop traits like confidence, perseverance, and grit, which are all major components required to be successful in life because no matter how low your bottom is life will continue to test you.
To learn more about Spencer's story and his acquired love of running, check the story below: