San Diego homeless man pays it forward

It’s funny how we all value things so differently throughout our life. I feel like I have good values but sometime I question whether my perception of value is appropriate.

In June I will be running the San Diego Rock N Roll marathon for the second year in a row. I am part of a great organization called Team In Training. As a member of Team In Training I get access to professional coaches who train and prepare us for the 26.2 mile endeavor. We also get to be part of a team with mentors and teammates who support and motivate us. In return we agree to raise a certain amount of money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. Last year I raised $1700 for the Sand Diego Rock N Roll marathon and $1100 for the Nike Womens Marathon.

Yesterday was my first day of training. I wasn’t very motivated to be honest. I live downtown so I first ran towards the convention center. I ran the length of the convention center and looped around the back of it to run by the marina. As I got to the marina I saw a homeless man in the distance holding a sign. I thought to myself “well I obviously don’t have any money because I’m working out.” I guess he thought the same so all he said was “look at the dedication! way to go. keep up the good work.” For some reason, maybe because I was trying to avoid conversation, I yelled back “thanks, I’m raising money for Leukemia”. I didn’t really slow down for the conversation so I was already past him when he responded “really. wow. good job.”

I didn’t really think much of it and why should I, I was able to make a typically uncomfortable conversation sort of positive. Anyway I kept running. I went past the Marriott and the Hyatt. I passed seaport village and also past the USS Midway. I turned around at the Star of India and headed back. By this point I had already forgotten about the homeless man who had cheered me on.

About 20 minuets passed and once again I saw the same homeless man off in the distance. As I got closer he looked, stood up and started walking towards me. I wasn’t really worried because I remembered my last interaction with him. As he got closer he said “are you the guy running for Leukemia?”. I told him I was and this it what he said in return:

“When you ran past me earlier and told me that you were running for Leukemia I was very moved. I cried while I thought about my life and how I wish I could help others. I don’t have much. It doesn’t get too busy back here. I only have $1 and I want you to have it. I want you to donate it to the Leukemia fund.”

I quickly responded by saying “Sir, I can’t accept your dollar. I just can’t.”

He replied with “No. I do a lot better than most of the homeless.” I said ok as long as I could give him credit and I asked his name. He said “anonymous” which I agreed to. He then said “I only want the best for everyone. Here’s my sign.” The sign said “Hi, my name is —–. I will always do my best. I will always pay it forward.” We talked for about another 15 seconds. I told him that he was a good man and that Karma was on his side. I said “God bless you” and went on my way.

As I ran away I didn’t know what to think. I was sad but also inspired. This man had given away all his money. I know it wasn’t a lot but that could have been his next meal.

I was very moved by the generosity of this homeless man who had nothing. He really impressed me. Furthermore he was the very first donation to my Leukemia and Lymphoma fund. I am definitely going to donate his dollar to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and I’m also going to match it 100x ($100.00).

You can find my Team In Training donation information at:

One response to “San Diego homeless man pays it forward

  1. Right, that’s it! I’ve been thinking of making a donation to Medécins Sans Frontières for quite some time now, and this inpired me to do it!

    Makes you wonder what his story was.

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