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Reversing the Trend

Updated: Mar 12, 2022

BMR Philadelphia vice-captain, George Morse, and captain Lawrence Harrington. photo: Bryan Lathrop

Black Men Run (BMR) was started in Atlanta in 2013 by Edward Walton and Jason Russell to give African-Americans a brotherhood built on lifestyle, physical fitness and accountability. It now has chapters in more than 50 cities, including London, Paris, and, of course, Philadelphia. There’s no shortage of Philly running groups focusing on the benefits of fitness; but BMR PHL stands alone in trying to reverse the disturbing trend of excessively high rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes among African-American men. Leading the charge for BMR PHL in those efforts are Legacy of Hope sponsored athletes for the 2022 Love Run Half Marathon, captain Lawrence Harrington and vice-captain George Morse.

• Among Blacks age 20 and older, 44.4% of men have Cardiovascular Diseases
• Black males have a risk of first-ever stroke that is almost twice that of whites
• Heart disease is the number one cause of death for African American males

Harrington started running with BMR Philly in 2019 and in 2020 he was tapped to be captain by his predecessor. Soon after, Harrington tapped George Morse to be his vice-captain. Both are seasoned runners with numerous races under their belts—multiple full marathons, half marathons, as well as many 5 and 10k races. They joined forces with Legacy of Hope through Will Peoples, a friend of Harrington who was fighting cancer at the time.

Will Peoples and Lawrence Harrington after riding 100+ miles at the PHL24. photo: Bryan Lathrop

“Will and I went to college together." Recalls Harrington, "Via social media, I saw that he was battling cancer, and I would check in on him and send my prayers. Then Will reached out and asked if I might be interested in doing a bike ride as part of the PHL24—instead of climbing the stairs for 24 hours—to help raise funds for Legacy of Hope. We rode over 100 miles.” Harrington’s efforts with Will at the PHL24 sealed the deal for Morse to get on board to with Legacy.