Posted Suzanna McCloskey on 5/12/2015 |Featured Columns & Series
This year, Girls on the Run will serve its one-millionth girl! We’re honoring this milestone by celebrating what makes each of us one in a million and by showcasing some one-in-a-million women who have made exceptional contributions to empowering girls and women.
In addition to being a wife, a mother of three and health enthusiast, Tracy Gariepy serves as a Brand Ambassador for running and fitness projects at Vibram USA, a National Partner of Girls on the Run. As an ultramarathon runner, Tracy has completed a 100k trail race and is training for a 100-mile race later this year. She's found a way to fully experience the world through running and has spread that passion for staying active to her children, who, along with Tracy's husband, have participated in a number of running events, including several at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
Here’s what Tracy has to share about being one in a million.
Q: Girls on the Run envisions a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams! How did you start to realize your own limitless potential and pursue the path to where you are today?
Tracy: A turning point in my life was in 2003 when two of my three children were diagnosed with different lifelong illnesses, neither of which have a known cure...My sister-in-law said to my mother, “Wow, I don’t know how Tracy is going to be able to cope with all of this,” to which my mother replied, “Tracy is stronger than anyone knows.” When the conversation was relayed to me later, it really made me stop and think. One person saw that strength in me, and that knowledge was what I needed to be able to see that strength in myself. My mom was right—I was (and am) strong. I took control of my children’s health and well-being and worked hard to provide them with a good home, a balanced life and to instill in them the confidence that my mother instilled in me.
Q: Girls on the Run believes that big things are possible when you keep moving forward. Can you share an example from your own life?
Tracy: Two years ago, I crossed the finish line of my first 50-mile race. I was the last person to finish, but not for lack of trying. The race went through the night, through unexpected water crossings up to our hips and over some very rugged terrain in the woods. My running partner felt sick for a portion of the race, and we had to stop or slow down many times during the night as she tried to get her bearings. As she was beginning to feel better, my own body was beginning to break down, and she was the one who then would slow down to stay with me and keep my spirits up and motivated. At mile 40, she twisted an ankle and was unable to continue and encouraged me to finish the final 10 miles on my own. After 14 hours of running (sometimes crawling!) it seemed impossible to take another step, let alone run another 10 miles on my own. However, quitting was just not an option to me, so the only thing to do was to move forward... I finished, last, but proudly, and for me it was just the beginning. I’m still moving forward.
Q: Which one of the core values of Girls on the Run resonates most with you and why?
Tracy: "Express joy, optimism and gratitude through our words, thoughts and actions" resonates with me in a very powerful way. Through running, I’ve found a way to experience and fully enjoy the world that we live in and that has carried over into most other aspects of my life. Now that I’ve realized how happy I am, I’m finding that I’m so grateful for my family, my health, the goodness in others and for so many things, no matter how small, that we’re fortunate to have or experience. As a runner, I’m confident in my own abilities to achieve more and more, to run farther or faster. I think the joy, optimism, and gratitude I feel while running has a profound impact on how I raise my family, how I form relationships, create my career, etc. I’d like to think that family, friends and associates see a woman who is happy, focused and driven but most of all humbled and appreciative of all she has.
Q: What insight or advice would you offer a young girl today? What would you say now to your 8-year-old self?
Tracy: When faced with a difficult decision, consider what is the right thing to do, not what is the easiest thing to do. This might mean standing up to a bully even though it’s scary or studying even though your friends are going out for the day, but it also might mean taking some time to relax and appreciate life when things get a little too hectic. You’ll make some decisions that in hindsight might not have been ideal, but that’s just part of being human. You always have the opportunity to make things better if you face your fears, face your demons and work hard.
Who do you think is One in a Million? Take the One in a Million Challenge today and help build a chain of affirmation! Post a photo of someone you think is One in a Million, make a donaton to Girls on the Run in their honor and ask them to accept the challenge to do the same.