By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Moves group spreads health and wellness

What began as a simple company outreach has turned into a movement. A movement now becoming more commonly known as “Modesto Moves.”

Founded earlier this year, the 501c3 non-profit began as a result of Doctors Medical Center looking for a way to reach out to the community in the way of health and wellness.

Leanne Mason, a veteran walk coach and registered nurse for Doctors, was first approached by the medical center as they looked for a way to reach the community. She in turn, connected them with her husband Mike Mason, who possesses a shared passion for health and wellness.

“They decided not to just do something for in house, not just for the employees,” Mike said of his initial meeting with representatives, “but for the community.”

Both active members of ShadowChase Running Club, the husband-wife team shared they looked to their peers for support as well as guidance.

“We’re not a weight loss group,” Mike said of ‘Modesto Moves’ in its inaugural year. “We’re about health and wellness. We’ll get them to where they need to go for health.”

The primary piece the group plays in the health and wellness role is through the act of movement.

Mike noted varying sources they have partnered with in addition to Doctors, stating, “We’ll provide some of the tools for education. We know with exercise nutrition is a big piece.”

The not for profit began largely in part due to their sponsors Doctors Medical Center and Surgical Artistry of Modesto.

“They have a heart of gold,” Mike said of the founding sponsors and their support. “This would not have happened if those two hadn’t have said, hey, we want this for the community.”

The goal set before the members who joined the group is to find their way to the finish line of the Modesto Peace Officer Memorial Run on Sept. 25.

Each week, twice a week since early April, training groups of varying abilities have met to help the participants prepare for either the 5k or half marathon distance. Many are first timers, all under the leadership of experienced coaches from walking to running.

“Our whole goal is to get people healthy at a reasonable cost,” Mike said of the $80 per season fee. Each season begins in April and concludes in late September.

As a not for profit, proceeds from the group are used to support and sponsor those in need looking to get healthy, as well as supporting a main charity. Due to its growing success the group will expand ‘Moves’ to Manteca Moves and Ripon Moves in January 2017. Those groups will train for the Surgical Artistry Modesto-sponsored Rina’s Run, being hosted on May 13, 2017.

For 2016, Modesto Moves has chosen to support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as its main charity.

“How this all started is because of our brother-in-law,” Mike added. “He was a marathon runner and he was fast. He came down with MS and is now confined to a wheelchair. So we thought we have to do something for MS.”

The couple shared that since starting the group in April they have found the most satisfaction in the lives being touched and goals being reached.

One of many special stories is that of Xenia Foresti, a 21-year-old living with autism. Xenia, a Denair High School graduate, has a gift for music, specifically piano. After participation in a couple of races she was introduced to the Modesto Moves group in April. The couple shared the simple act of running has given her purpose, confidence and supportive friendships.

“It has transformed her completely,” Mike said.

“What inspires me,” Leanne said of the participants and their achievements, “is watching people who think they can’t do something … finish it and cross that finish line. I’m in tears every time I watch someone cross that finish line and watch them finish what they started. Then to have them come back, again and again.”

“The most rewarding part is ... it’s not about me,” Mike humbly stated, sharing a family history of unhealthy eating which cost him both parents, as well as his brother. “It’s about helping others get healthy.”

For the two, helping others also helps them.

“That’s tough, when you lose a family member to obesity,” Mike explained. “Maybe I can make a difference helping others get healthy. When I see others obtain their goals and objectives, that’s what makes me inspired.”

Both coaches shared the people are what make the time and effort worth it. The accomplishments they’re able to share, the personal stories, as well as the struggles.

“I just feel so blessed to be able to do this,” Leanne summed up, “and the community response has just been overwhelming.”

“When they come up to you and say ... this is actually saving my life,” Mike shared, “… that’s rewarding. What I normally tell them is, okay ... how do you take others with you?”

The Peace Officer Memorial Run will be hosted in Modesto on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016. Registration information can be found at

. For information on Modesto Moves, Manteca Moves or Ripon Moves, call Mike at 209-605-2378, e-mail:; Leanne at 209-568-7004,