American author Robert Fulghum said, “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” For Martin Rivera from the Orange County Rescue Mission, this has proved to be a positive thing as his twelve year old son, Martin Jr. is watching him turn around his life. After three years apart, on September 27, 2013, Martin was able to have his son live with him at the Rescue Mission and begin influencing his life once more.
After watching his father’s dedication and perseverance to running and completing a half marathon, Martin Jr. now looks forward to joining him to run the OC Half Marathon in May. “It’s my responsibility to motivate him, which is also motivation for me,” says Martin. Getting up at 5 am on four mornings a week to run with the Village of Hope runners through Up and Running Again has given father and son time to be together with otherwise very busy schedules. Martin Jr. is in honors classes as well as many other scheduled activities.
A relationship with God has helped Martin battle areas of his life such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and weight. And God’s influence in his life has helped Martin, a single father, get his three children back. Martin and his son are now able to avoid taking certain medications because of their healthy lifestyle at the Rescue Mission and since running with Up and Running Again.
Only three more weeks of training and father and son will cross the finish line together of the 13.1 mile race. Martin Jr. “wants to be like my dad and compete in the race without stopping.” They have grown to mutually respect each other through watching the dedication and perseverance to run even when it is tough. They motivate and encourage each other even when they could come up with excuses such as going to bed late or being sick. “My dad never wants me to quit,” says Martin Jr., “I like the feeling I get after I run.” Says Martin about his son, “I’m proud of him. Martin is an image of me, but a hundred times better in every way.”
His father’s positive influence in his life has led Martin Jr. to write an article about his experience titled, “Don’t Stop Believing.” He knows his father’s influence through running has impacted his life, and he in turn, wants to pass on that legacy. He sums it up: “I believe running this half marathon with my father will inspire others who watch the race that they can complete a half marathon and they too can spend time together and accomplish goals.” You bet it!