Chris Copenhaver is a graduate of the New Life Program at Harvest Farm. Eight years ago, he was on the verge of self-destruction. Today, he is an inspired endurance athlete breaking into the field of elite ultrarunning.
What inspired you to get involved with the Harvest Farm Run Club?
In October 2012, about four months into my time in the New Life Program (NLP), I started leading the club and made it what it is today. Typically, up to 10 participants join each week. Once a participant has proven that they’re dedicated to staying in the club, I reward them with a pair of running shoes donated by Runners Roost in Fort Collins. Before COVID-19, I took the guys to a race each month and they got to see how much they’ve improved. This is huge because some of these guys had never been proud of themselves in their entire lives.
How have you seen the participants grow through this group?
The running group allows me to see these guys literally transform their lives. Many of them show up completely broken. Week by week, I get to watch as they piece their lives back together. They gain back the weight that drugs and homelessness had taken from them. Their faces begin to fill out and their skin regains color. They quickly go from being unable to walk a mile to seeing how fast they can run three. I occasionally have guys who work up to running 10 miles and more.
How have you been able to impact the participants during group runs?
I try to inspire them with different things I read, like Bible verses that focus on turning to God for strength. We talk about this once-in-a-lifetime chance they have been given to build new lives, form new healthy habits, learn to eat right, exercise, and take care of their bodies. I try to show them that the discipline it takes to be a dedicated runner is the same discipline it takes to achieve sobriety and live healthy lives.
Why do you think Harvest Farm is important to our community?
Harvest Farm is a place overflowing with God’s love and hope. The staff work tirelessly to help men build new lives. I believe this program is indispensable, not only to the Northern Colorado community, but to the entire nation. Before I knew the Farm existed, I had become hopeless. I knew I needed help, but I also knew I could never afford it. Without this program, countless other men and I would not be alive to tell our stories. I do not have the words to describe how much I love this place and everything that it stands for.
This post is a part of October’s Changing Lives Newsletter. In this month’s edition, The Ripple Effect, you’ll learn about how our NLP Graduates are giving back through the Peer Leader Program.