When Jason Valderrama stumbled onto Cloud & Fire, he could never have predicted how much it would change his life. For the first time in a long time, he found people who believed in him. All of Cloud & Fire held him accountable to his goal of completing high school but also encouraged him with grace and love when he felt like giving up and walking away.
On April 22, Jason ran the 10K with many other students and friends of Cloud & Fire at our Race it Forward charity run. He would tell us later that this was his first time doing any sort of major exercise since tearing a ligament in his leg many years ago, an injury that kept him from playing the sports that he loved and keeping up with the other areas of his personal life. In fact, this marked the beginning of a dark time for Jason.
After leaving school to focus on issues at home, he watched as the things he had once been passionate about disappeared into a monotonous lifestyle defined by work, home, and socializing. With his arrival at Cloud & Fire YouthBuild and the change it was bringing to his life, Jason considered getting back to his athletics, something that had brought him so much joy in the past. However, his passion was overshadowed by doubt in his leg’s ability to run like before. But when he crossed that 10K finish line, Jason exceeded his own expectations and proved to himself that he was indeed ready to run again. Completing the race was symbolic to him, a picture of the pride and accomplishment he will feel as he crosses the stage as one of our 2017 graduates.
It’s only fitting that our charity run would inspire students like Jason, who has also been transformed by his time at Cloud & Fire in several other areas of his life. In everything we do, our organization cannot help but inspire and motivate students to pursue the change they desire to see in their own lives.