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Archive for the ‘Favorite F2BT Causes’ Category

One of my favorite non-fiction books of all time is Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, by John and Stasi Eldredge. On the jacket, it reads: “Life is harsh on the heart of a girl.” And I think any woman would agree that that’s true. We’ve all experience heartache, disappointment, insecurity…and if we’re lucky, we are stronger women because of it.

Life IS harsh, but the experiences I had growing up in sports, with coaches and mentors and teammates by my side, helped give me the tools to deal with what life hands me with integrity and grace. Studies have shown that girls involved in sports develop more self-esteem, which in turn helps them make good decisions to prevent such things as teenage pregnancy, drug use, and eating disorders. Involvement also can help with performance in school and promote a healthy self image.

Girls growing up right now have more pressures than ever at increasingly younger ages, so it’s so important they all have role models, friends, and a healthy outlet to develop confidence to face whatever life hands them. Enter Girls on the Run International.

GOTRI is a non-profit program designed to prepare young girls for a 5k (3.1 mile) run while incorporating curriculum that targets mental, emotional, and social aspects of their character as well. With chapters in the U.S. and Canada, the mission of GOTRI is “to educate and prepare girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living.” It is a 12-week after-school program that brings in strong female role models and creates a safe environment for girls to learn to be themselves.

We are working to bring a chapter of Girls on the Run to Louisville, and I’m running the Derby Festival miniMarathon (13.1 miles) next year to raise awareness and support of this organization. To make a secure online donation, please visit my fundraising page at: http://www.active.com/donate/SoleMates2010/ABledso17. You can also send me the name of a women or girl in your life you’d like to honor, and I will pay special tribute to her at the race.

As for me, I’ll be running in honor of my mom, Tammy Lee. I’m fully aware that our relationship is special, and I appreciate having her to teach me dignity, grace, hospitality, compassion, and toughness.

– albledsoe

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St. Louis Run for Congo Women

Women for Women International display.

This summer I decided to get back into running shape and tackle an organized race again. I already had the race in mind that I wanted to complete, the St. Louis Run for Congo Women. Run for Congo Women is a fundraising run that benefits the Women for Women International (WFWI) Congo program. Run for Congo Women started with just one woman, Lisa Shannon, running a 30.16 trail run in Portland, Oregon. She raised and astonishing $30,000 in a single run to help rebuild the lives of Congolese women.

Two years ago I ran/walked the 7K St. Louis Run for Congo Women, so I was anxious to get back on the trails and see how the event had grown. The first Run for Congo Women I participated in was nothing more than one registration table and a limited staff of about 5 volunteers directing race participants to the trail. There were only a few volunteers, but they took the time to talk one on one with the race participants about the the fundraising leg of the Congo Run, Women for Women International. WFWI provides these women with financial and emotional aid, job-skills training and small business assistance so they can rebuild their lives. Even though it was a small race in 2007, the energy and support showcased for the cause being supported was very humbling and stuck with me for the next two years.

St. Louis Run for Congo Women

The race site before we began the run.

The morning of the race was cool (about 40 degrees), dry and sunny; a beautiful day for racing. What a difference two years had made for this fundraising run. The single registration table had multiplied, and now there were at least 5 different booths set up for registration and information about WFWI sponsorship. Before the run began, a woman from the Congo spoke about how appreciative she was that so many participants came together to run and show their support for the millions of women in the Congo who need help rebuilding their lives. Her testimony was very emotional as she spoke about the tragic circumstances so many women are dealing with in the Congo.

Before I knew it, it was time to start the run. The trail was wooded and hilly which took us around the perimeter of the park. The runners quickly thinned out after the first half mile as everyone hit their pace. The quiet morning run gave me a lot of time to think about why I was running, and how lucky I was to live a life filled with so many things I often take for granted. As I ran, I thought about the innocent women and children who were facing brutal torture and rape on a daily basis. I thought of the women who have nothing, but still continue to take in orphaned children and bravely face each new day that will certainly be worse than the last. I’m taken aback by the adversity these women face everyday, yet they continue to have an unbreakable spirit that sustains them. These women deserve a voice. They deserve the opportunity to rebuild their lives.

St. Louis Run for Congo Women

Congolese women singing after the race.

I was so proud to be able to run that morning, knowing that the funds raised would help to support women and children who needed basic human rights like medical attention, food and schooling. As I crossed the finish line of that race, it was a bittersweet moment. I knew our efforts of the day were an accomplishment, but I couldn’t help but think about how much more still needs to be done. My somber mood was quickly shifted as I made my way over to the site of the event. Congolese women were singing and celebrating. The excitement about raising money and awareness for WFWI was everywhere. While we haven’t ended their suffering completely, we did do our part that day. Step by step we can make a difference in this world.

Sara at the 2009 Congo Run in St. Louis

Just after I crossed the finish line.

My plans for next year include more than just running one day for these women. I want to volunteer and help the race in St. Louis continue to grow. Do you have a Congo Run in your area? Will you be running for the women of the Congo in 2010?

-Sara

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“I see life as both a gift and a responsibility. My responsibility is to use what God has given me to help his people in need.”—Millard Fuller, Founder of Habitat for Humanity

The United Nations has designated the first Monday in October as World Habitat Day. What a great time to consider how you can make a difference in the life of someone else by helping to provide one of the most basic needs, shelter. Through organizations like Habitat for Humanity, you can make a difference in neighborhood revitalization projects and help make affordable housing available to families in need.

This summer I participated in an all women build with Habitat for Humanity of St. Charles, and it was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. Logging eight hour shifts of manual labor gave me a lot of time to think about how fortunate I am to have a home of my own, and how many people do not have that opportunity.

Me with fellow Drywall Diva team members, after a day of work with Habitat.

Sara with fellow Drywall Diva team members after a day of work on the Brown's home.

I was amazed by how much work a team of dedicated people can accomplish in such a short time. With the determination of 800 hard working women, the direction of experienced builders, and generous donations and support of a local community we were able to successfully build a new home for a single mother and her daughter in a matter of months. Without the Habitat for Humanity program, this family would not have had the opportunity to have an affordable home of their own.

Habitat for Humanity is not a give away program, it is a partnership program dedicated to providing those in need with adequate shelter while working side by side with volunteers to build simple, decent houses. Homeowners are responsible for a down payment, a mortgage and putting in hundreds of hours of sweat equity in their new home. Habitat for Humanity is an international organization that has helped to successfully build over 300,000 homes in over 90 countries around the world. Once the basic need of stable housing is fulfilled, so many opportunities that may have seemed impossible are suddenly within reach. Habitat for Humanity has shown that building homes does more than put a roof over someone’s head.

You can make a difference in this world, donate your time today. Have you ever participated in Habitat for Humanity? Did you participate in any World Habitat Day events? Share your experience with us.

-Sara

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October 2 is LIVESTRONG Day, the anniversary of Lance Armstrong’s testicular cancer diagnosis. Since that day, Lance has not only survived aggressive cancer and returned to dominate the sport of cycling, he’s also become perhaps the most famous cancer survivor and advocate for a cure.

“If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell.” - Lance Armstrong

“If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell.” - Lance Armstrong

Maybe you don’t like the yellow bracelets, but to me, they, and the Lance Armstrong Foundation as a whole, represent the power your attitude has on your life and health. LIVESTRONG is about doing something about cancer, not just sitting around and letting it win. Whether it’s raising money for research and patient care, advocacy efforts, prevention and awareness, or even just social support, LIVESTRONG gets things done. That’s a cause I can get behind.

I’m a fan of a holistic approach to our health, to consider the power of our emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being as well as the physical. LIVESTRONG covers all those bases. That’s why, in honor of cancer survivors like Lance Armstrong and my grandfather, and in memory of my grandmother and her battle with cancer, I proudly don my yellow LIVESTRONG bracelet and work every day to make myself healthier and stronger in every way.

If you want to get involved, start by signing the World Cancer Declaration. Then, take action to make yourself, your family, friends, and community, stronger than cancer.

– albledsoe

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