Running can be cathartic. It can stimulate one’s mind and body to achieve astonishing feats; and for Eduardo Rodriguez Vivar, running has been transformative. Now Eduardo aspires to share his love of the sport with others by developing a culture of running in Chelsea. Beginning in early April, Eduardo is now facilitating Chelsea Recreation’s Chelsea Running Club.
“Running changed my life,” said Eduardo. “I want to build a healthier community that supports each other. A healthier community is a happier community.”
Before Eduardo started running in 2018, he did not exercise, suffered from depression, was consuming alcohol daily, and was overweight. One morning, Eduardo looked at his reflection in the bathroom mirror, and realized that he was downhearted. In that moment, at 5 a.m., he decided to make a change, and spontaneously embarked on a two-block dash.
“I continued running every day, little by little,” Eduardo describes. “In three months, I lost 52 pounds. I didn’t want to drink or smoke, and I was happier. I had ups and downs. It was hard, but I made the decision to better myself.”
Now, Eduardo is an avid runner and hopes to promote health and wellness in Chelsea. Through the Running Club, participants, 15 years and older, are encouraged to walk or run at their own pace.
“It can be intimidating and challenging to go out for a run; that’s why we want to build this team: so everyone feels free and inspired,” proclaimed Eduardo. “Our mission is to empower the community to move.”
Those interested are invited to join the free club that will meet locally for runs every Wednesday. Runners can meet at the Arlington Street entrance of the Williams Middle School building, 180 Walnut Street.
For more information visit www.Recreation.ChelseaMa.gov, or contact Bea Cravatta, Director of Recreation and Cultural Affairs at 617-466-5233, or [email protected].
“From Eduardo’s personal experience, he understands how to assist runners of all levels to create and meet goals such as good mental health, nutritional habits, and physical fitness,” explained Bea. “He brings about an enthusiasm for running and its possibilities.”
Eduardo was born in Puebla, Mexico, and moved to the United States in 2010 with the hopes of learning American culture and the English language. Seven years ago, he settled in Chelsea.
“I promised my mother that I was going to be a good person, better myself, and help my family back home. I have a loving family who support me being here,” shared Eduardo. “They’re happy that I’m living a healthy lifestyle, and improving my life. When I run, I can be a better version of myself. I want to share that with the world.”
Chelsea had been considered the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts, and Eduardo was one of the countless residents who struggled with food insecurity and joblessness. While standing in a food distribution line, he was inspired by La Collaborativa and The Salvation Army’s dedication to the people of the city, and soon began volunteering with both organizations.
“During the hardest times, you see the best in people. It touched my heart seeing people working hard to support the community and make sure we had food on the table. These beautiful people make Chelsea unique. I’m very grateful,” recalled Eduardo, who now works as an expeditor at Contessa, an Italian restaurant at The Newbury Hotel, overlooking the Boston Public Garden. “I call Chelsea home now. It is a hard working community with immigrants from all over the world. That’s what makes Chelsea special – we bring our own culture, and that’s why Chelsea is rich.”
Since COVID-19 cases have lowered, and residents have been vaccinated, Eduardo wishes to bring positivity to the community with the Chelsea Running Club. He will encourage participants to develop a personal relationship with nature to clear their minds.
“Now we can go outside a little more and breathe. We have some freedom,” Eduardo exclaimed. “I want to give the community hope, and an opportunity to be together. We are not a typical running club. The Chelsea Running Club is here to promote health and wellness. Everybody is welcome.”
Eduardo has been a runner for Team Stride for Stride for two years, and a few months ago became a board member of the non-profit organization that promotes diversity and inclusion in running by purchasing race bibs for immigrant and low-income runners. Stride for Stride also provides food assistance to families through their Heart to Cart program.
Eduardo is currently working on “The Road to the Boston Marathon,” a project that documents the journey of eight Stride for Stride runners from countries such as Colombia, Guatemala, and El Salvador, as they prepare for 2022 The Boston Marathon.
“Their stories are powerful, beautiful, and meaningful,” said Eduardo. “We want to make a movement, increase diversity, and empower the community.”