Posted Suzanna McCloskey on 6/10/2015 |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.
Inspired by her longtime interest in health and fitness, Toni Carey co-founded Black Girls RUN!, a Girls on the Run Volunteer Alliance, in 2009 to inspire African American women to make their health a priority and provide encouragement and resources to new and veteran runners. While currently serving at the helm of the grassroots organization Black Girls RUN!, Toni also freelances for Zelle and provides consulting services to other grassroots organizations. Click here to find your nearest Black Girls RUN! running group and join the movement.
Here’s what Toni 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?
Toni: My parents really set the stage. They always encouraged me to pursue excellence in everything I did. It wasn’t until high school that I really began to accept myself (flaws and all) and began to understand that being different wasn’t a bad thing. I didn’t fit the mold that my peers wanted to put me in, and my parents insisted that I didn’t! That encouragement from my parents continues today as I work to improve the obesity statistics in the African-American community. They remind me that with hard work and perseverance, absolutely anything is possible and that serving others is one of life’s greatest gifts. I replay those words daily, especially when things get a little tough.
Q: Of the traits and achievements that help make you one-in-a-million, what stands out most to you?
Toni: Definitely tenacity. I’ve always been unwilling to compromise and give up on something I believe in, and because of that I’ve been able to accomplish things that I never could have imagined.
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?
Toni: As an entrepreneur, each day has its own set of challenges. It’s very easy to become discouraged, frustrated or overwhelmed. People tell me “no” a lot, and it’s hard to hear that when you truly believe in the work that you’re doing. But just like training for a race, I focus on the present and how to find an a solution. Running a business is not easy! But, I’ve realized that when your heart is in the right place, and you really want to improve the world, the universe conspires with you to make it happen. Sometimes, the reward isn’t money. It’s being able to change the lives you touch.
Q: Which one of the core values of Girls on the Run resonates most with you and why?
Toni: Nurturing our physical, emotional and spiritual health is so important. There have been instances where I haven’t focused on these aspects of my life and, in turn, wasn’t giving the world the best version of myself. Now, I exercise daily, meditate and read the Bible regularly. I also always give myself quiet time throughout the day. The older I get, the more in tune I have become with what I need to stay at 100 percent.
Q: One of the many things our curriculum teaches girls is how to recognize and work through challenges in productive ways. What is a challenge you have faced (or still face)? How did/do you respond, and what have you learned from it?
Toni: Working with people that have different opinions, backgrounds and experiences can be challenging. I’ve learned that having alternative views doesn’t mean that one person is right and the other is wrong—we just have different perspectives, and that’s okay. My value doesn’t increase or decrease because someone has a different point of view.
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.