Why We Run

When you Run for Mercy, you support Mercy's free-of-charge Christian residential program that provides hope and life transformation for young women facing difficult life circumstances.



Casey, her husband Wesley,
and their daughter Brianna


Cacey's Story

Read 2011 graduate Alex's amazing story of transformation and why Run for Mercy is special to her:


I always struggled with my weight but covered it up by striving to be a good Christian girl. At 12 years old, I was introduced to bulimia by a basketball teammate. I innocently tried it, and soon it took control over my life. I sought help from nutritionists and counselors and was even put on depression medication—but nothing worked.


I convinced myself that if I could just graduate from college, get married and become a teacher, the depression would go away and I would love myself. After getting a couple of D’s my junior year due to the darkness I was entrenched in, my mom gave me an ultimatum. We found out about Mercy Ministries online, and I applied. While on the waiting list, I was in a car accident and felt as if I was at the end of my rope. Three hours later, I received a phone call from Mercy Ministries saying I had been accepted.


After a few months of going through the motions in the program, the Mercy staff gave me a push to really commit to my healing. That was exactly what I needed. I brokenly turned to God, and He began working in my life. I found out His love was real and tangible, and I claimed my identity as His child.



2011 Graduate Alex
2011 Mercy graduate Alex

Alex's Story


Read 2011 graduate Alex's amazing story of transformation and why Run for Mercy is special to her:


As a child, I experienced sexual and emotional abuse. Everything in my world seemed uncertain and I had a lot of fear. I felt pressure to be perfect and like every move was evaluated with a critical eye.


Basketball was my outlet. It was the one thing I really loved doing. In high school, I was at the top of my class and was being recruited to play basketball in college. From the outside, I was living a perfect life.


When my senior basketball season ended, I didn’t know how to deal with the stress or the lack of control I felt. I started running for hours every day, but in no way had enough nutrition to sustain that kind of activity. I began to lose weight and finally found the acceptance I had wanted my whole life. That’s how my eating disorder started—with exercise.


My college basketball dreams were cut short because my body was too fragile to participate. My life was dictated by food and exercise, and the years that would follow would be marked by treatment centers and failed attempts to get better. Even though at times I gained strength, I still had not worked through my past. I still wasn’t free.


Alex at Run for Mercy
Alex running in the 2013 St. Louis race

At one point I tried to make a fresh start by moving to a new town to go to back to college. Soon after, I was raped by someone I had just met. It brought the abuse I had experienced as a child back. I started having night terrors and flashbacks, my eating disorder gained strength, and I began cutting as well. I had lost all hope and eventually tried to take my own life. God had different plans for me. I applied to Mercy, and by God’s grace was able to walk through the doors three days after my college graduation.


Even though I came to Mercy a complete mess, the unconditional love I found there changed my life. For the first time, I felt loved and accepted. I started to understand that my identity was in Christ alone, not in others, my achievements or my weight. I now know that God isn’t like people—He won’t fail me. I am no longer a slave to my past, I am a new creation in Christ.


Today, I am working for a major university and pursuing a master’s degree in business. In my spare time, I help coach a weekly basketball clinic for children from low-income neighborhoods and volunteer with Special Olympics by helping the athletes learn various skills. I also help a Christian nonprofit organization that connects people in need to the local church. I especially love learning the ins and outs of this ministry because I hope to work with a nonprofit after I finish my master's degree.


I love being part of Run for Mercy, and have participated every year since I graduated from the program. Run for Mercy is a tangible reminder of God’s love for me. I get to reflect on how God has taken me from fear, shame, cutting, an eating disorder and suicide to excitement, courage, confidence and freedom in Him. He loves me so much that he not only rescued me from my past, but is now glorified by it. Someone ran for me when I had no hope, trusting God to use Mercy to transform my life. Now I get to run for a girl who will soon encounter the same freedom I have found!


Heather and her fiance Daniel
Heather and her husband, Daniel

Heather's Story


Read 2011 graduate Heather's amazing story of transformation and why Run for Mercy is special to her:


I was raised in a solid, Christian family who poured out grace unending. I felt the need to critique myself because it seemed no one was ever hard on me. This led to an 8 year battle with over-exercising and an eating disorder stemming from my high expectations of myself. I sought comfort in controlling what my body looked like, and I felt bound by the pressure to maintain a perfect image. After being taken advantage of at a college party, I saw myself as trash, and I fell into a downward spiral that involved alcohol abuse, depression, and a promiscuous lifestyle with empty relationships. I used alcohol as a way to numb my pain, and I slowly began shutting people out of my life. I treated myself the way I saw myself: unworthy.


Then I heard about Mercy from a graduate of the program. I was willing to do anything to change my life and be happy again, so I decided to apply.


Heather and her parents at Merry Mercy
Heather and her parents at Merry Mercy

While at Mercy, I learned the truth about my worth to God and the value I have in Him. The Lord showed me that my body is beautifully and carefully designed by Him and that nothing can change my value to Him. I met Jesus at Mercy, and I see myself as beautiful through His eyes. I am no longer concerned with my reflection in the mirror; it’s my reflection in Him that I seek.


Coming to Mercy meant coming to end of the thoughts that the enemy was pouring into my head. I was swept off my feet by Jesus Christ, and He taught me how to receive love from Him, others, and myself. I am deserving of this kind of love! Now, I have experienced healing that could only come from Christ, and I am learning what it means to love others with that same love. My body is a temple-- rather than bowing down to my body, I worship the One Who dwells inside of it. Every race I compete in is a testimony of the victory I have experienced in this race of life. The Lord continues to lead me by the hand, and we always finish victorious!


God has used Mercy Ministries to help restore every area of my life - spiritually, emotionally and physically. Since graduating from Mercy, I have seen God’s faithfulness to me in abundance! One example is that the Lord has brought me a wonderful husband. God has used Daniel as a true picture of grace and forgiveness. I am blessed beyond belief to be married to a man who first pursued Christ to get to me. I am so thankful!




Kristen's Story


Read 2010 graduate Kristen’s amazing story of transformation and why Run for Mercy is special to her:


I grew up in a Christian home, but I felt like I would only be loved by God and others if I was perfect. I became a people-pleaser and feared rejection, so I attempted to be perfect in all I did, especially in sports. In 9th grade, I moved to a bigger town where there was more competition. I compared my body to other girls and was determined to be the best runner with the best body. I developed an eating disorder and lost about 40 pounds, which left me weak and dangerously underweight. I was hospitalized for a low heart rate, but continued to exercise daily despite the fact that I was dying. I wanted to be free from my eating disorder. I knew Mercy was a Christian program, and I saw how God had freed so many other girls there. I had heard about His power but never experienced it, so I applied.


While at Mercy, I learned how much God loves me. He taught me that I don’t have to be perfect to get His attention; He is near to me if I just call to Him. I know now that there is so much more God has planned for me. Life is so much more than being thin and exercising.



Being at the Run for Mercy event was so symbolic because of my history. I thought I would never be able to run again and still keep Jesus first. Not only was I able to run the race without a need to push myself to the limit, but also was able to share my story with hundreds of people who came out for the 5K. I was transformed by God's grace, and I no longer run for my glory, but for His.


After graduation, I went to college and am now studying psychology. I want to see others be set free like me. I am so grateful to Mercy for pouring so much love into me. I know that I am free in Christ because of the truth they spoke over me. I now know and have experienced God’s power. Thank you, Mercy, for helping me see the Truth, so this captive could be set free!


About Mercy

Mercy provides a free-of-charge, voluntary Christian residential program to young women aged 13-28 who have been victims of physical and sexual abuse, including sex trafficking, as well as those who face life-controlling issues such as eating disorders, self-harm, drug and alcohol addictions, depression and unplanned pregnancy. Click here to learn more.

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