I don’t know where to begin.
#Run4AllWomen began as a simple but extraordinary effort that me and three friends were going to embark on. We thought we’d run 240 miles from Harlem to DC; raise, maybe, a few hundred or a few thousand dollars for Planned Parenthood; and we’d have a nice story to talk about amongst ourselves when we’d get older.
But that’s not what happened. Yes, we ran from New York to D.C. Yes, we raised money. And yes, we will certainly have a story to talk about when we get older, but the story and the experience and the results are so much more than we’d ever imagine.
- We began with a goal of raising $44,000 in honor of President Obama, a Planned Parenthood ally. We raised more than $100,000 for Planned Parenthood.
- We began with the intention of four women running for all women. Hundreds of women from all around the world ran with us, both in person and in solidarity.
- This effort began because of one simple premise, that “no one person can change the world, but we can each do our part.” We arrived at the Women’s March on Washington to join millions of women standing in solidarity demonstrating that we’re all ready to do our part.
Now, that brings us to today. We, my friends and I, with all of your support, have accomplished more than we could have ever possibly imagined with this run. I’ve been sitting here taking in the experience and trying to understand how that happen, and I can’t help but notice a few things:
I was scared when I wrote that original post... well, not when I wrote it, but when I posted it. I thought my friends would think I’m nuts. I thought I would raise, at most, $300 from friends and family. I thought the run would be near impossible to do. But I posted it and committed to it anyway.
Share Your Intention
I asked one of my friends why she’d agreed to do the run. She said, “I believed in what you were standing for. I believed in why you were doing this. And not only could I tell that this mattered to you, but, it also mattered to me.” The fact that thousands of people donated and hundreds of women join the run, I can only assuming that all of you believe it the vision also and that this mattered to you as well. If I didn’t share my heartfelt intention, this would have just been a nice idea that never happened.
Commit 100 Percent
On January 2nd, I posted the original GoFundMe post I wrote, “I (and a small team) will begin a 240-mile run.” On January 2nd, there was only I, no team, but I posted it anyway. I told myself I would find a small team and we’d do this run. Boy was I wrong. I found the biggest, baddest, boldest team anyone can possibly have standing with them and we ran together for women’s health and women’s rights!
I mention these three things because, while we’re celebrating this accomplishment and the accomplishment of the Women’s March on Washington, we have more work to do. I will continue to run and sweat for what matters to me ― women’s health, women’s rights, and other women’s issues. I will continue to run and sweat for Planned Parenthood, raising awareness and money for states that are most in jeopardy of losing funding. And hopefully I will continue to have a team of badass women who stand for women’s rights and women’s health alongside me.
That’s what I will do. What will you do?
I closed my original post with, “I can’t do much, but I can do this.” What is your “this?” What is it that you currently do, and how can you do it for women’s rights and women’s health? Can you teach people to code and raise money for women’s rights? Can you teach women how to be powerful business leaders and advocate for equal pay? Can you start a bookclub and raise awareness and money for women’s issues? Can you teach an online group fitness class and raise money for women’s health? Can you write a blog about organizations that support Planned Parenthood and figure out ways we can press them to increase their support? There is no single way or right way to be an activist. We must look at ourselves ― our talents, interests, and passions ― and find the ways that they can be used for social change.
Whatever is it that you do ― do it. And remember, fuck fear, share your intentions, and be 100 percent committed!
Here’s what’s next for us:
- The money from this campaign will go directly to Planned Parenthood. They will determine how the money is allocated to best meet the needs of the organization and you will certainly receive an update about that.
- I am compiling a mailing list of all those people interested in continuing to be part of the Run4AllWomen movement. Please click the following link to stay up to date: goo.gl/forms/i0hEJsLEdxiSSJJt2.
- On February 8th, we will host a panel discussion in New York from 7:00pm -9:00pm at FINISH LINE PT, 119 WEST 23RD, STREET, #304, NEW YORK NY. The discussion will be available via Facebook live at facebook.com/HarlemRun for everyone to view. We will go thru a Q&A with all of the women as well as make a major announcement regarding next steps.
- Follow @run4allwomen on Instagram and Twitter for realtime updates and like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Run4AllWomen
Our work has only just begun. Again, I did not anticipate that Run4AllWomen would evolve into a movement but I am so thankful that it has. I look forward to continuing to do this important work and involving as many people as possible to ensure that our rights are upheld and our needs are met.
Warmly and in solidarity!
Reflections from runner Talisa Hayes:
The Run4AllWomen run from NYC to D.C. was an amazing experience that i will never forget. Going into this I already had prior ultra marathon experience but this was my first time doing an ultra with a team. Running 250+ miles sounds crazy to most people but we had a great group of crazy women runners, all with different personalities but who worked so well together to get the mission accomplished. We were very fortunate to have so many people come out to support and run with us throughout all three days. The little to-no-sleep, being stuck in the van, and not bathing or brushing your teeth regularly for 3 days would drive most people crazy... these are the little things that we often take for granted. Despite those few minor hurdles we all determined to get D.C no matter what. I learned a lot about myself... even though i was running injured throughout this run, my pride and my heart would not let me fail and I knew I had to keep running. I did all that my body would allow me. I also learned that women can get along, work together, multi task, problem solve and most of all we have a lot of heart. I will cherish our van stories, the small chats, the restless nights, the songs that we song, the jokes we told and the words of encouragement we gave one other during the times it was needed.
Reflections from runner Mary Arnold on what it was like approaching Center City, PA:
People waved from stoops and cafes, a few cars honked but it seemed supportive. The mood is absolutely joyous and as we approach Independence Hall, we swing out into the road. I see the van first and then realize the street is blocked off and there were hundreds of people waiting, cheering with music blasting. I’d never seen anything like that before and tears sprung up; I tried to block them with my mittens. By the time we got across the street, my adrenaline had spiked. Nothing could stop me from running the next four miles. We met the van with the core four and posed for a giant photo right in front of Independence Hall and a thought arrived in my head: this was where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed and there we were, 240 years later, proudly exercising at least 10 of the rights we have been guaranteed.