Last night was a very special evening for Brooke of the RunningBrooke Fund. At the Carlyle Club in Alexandria, Brooke received the 2011 Joan White Grassroots Volunteer Award for her work as the founder, chief runner and chief fundraiser of the RunningBrooke Fund. As a wife who often sits on the sidelines and cheers my husband on while he receives awards, I was so proud to sit there and watch a fellow "housewife" garner an award in her own right. Of course, Brooke didn't win the award for executing her housewife duties. (But I am sure she's great at them, LOL! Shhh, she told me she doesn't iron. Really!) She won the award because she decided to make a difference when she could have just kept on living a pretty idyllic housewife life.
After a very nice dinner (I had the salmon), Brooke took the stage to accept her award and give her speech. One of her statements really struck me, "People really do want to help. The just don't know how." She's right. I didn't know how to help when I first met her. I didn't even know I could run. I ran a little and realized that I could raise a little money for her fund doing it. In the end, I had such a feeling of accomplishments, and the RunningBrooke Fund had over $1000 more than it would have without all of my donors. What I learned: You have to start somewhere, and you can't be afraid to start. Brooke could have been, and probably was, very scared when she started the RunningBrooke Fund. Her goals were lofty, 50 states, 7 continents, 5 majors, one a month, and raising money too!!! There were so many chances for her to fail, but she pushed past them. I knew that she had exercise induced asthma, but I never knew that she was diagnosed with it soon after she set out her 'lofty' goals and started the RunningBrooke Fund. For me, that probably would have been the end of it, but not for Brooke. She got some great medical care, for which she is very grateful, and she was on her way.
There are so many times that we can wrap ourselves up in our fears so tightly that we can't move. I was the young girl on the balance beam who didn't land my first foot because I was afraid my second foot would miss and I would fall. Yes, really, I was afraid to land because I feared I might fall. When I was running a year ago, I confided in Brooke that I often had a bit of anxiety during my first few miles. I felt anxious enough that I really wanted to turn around and go home before I even finished the first mile. One day when I was feeling quite anxious, I noticed something - if I just kept running, the feeling went away after I hit the third mile, and I felt so good. I thought this was pretty odd, and that no one would understand what I was talking about. When I confided in Brooke, she told me that she often felt a little weird during the beginning of her runs. It was really nice to know that someone else felt the same way, especailly someone who had run so many more miles than I could even imagine.
Brooke has been such an inspiration to me over the past year, and I hope she can inspire you too. She helped me find a way to 'help,' and she showed me that it is so important to push past your fears. In three years, she has gone from being a pretty normal housewife and mother of three to running(pardon the pun) a charity that has given over $80,000 to Alexandria's needy families and children. She went from fearing the neighborhoods that she drove through to helping the so many families in these neighborhoods. Now when she drives down certain streets, she doesn't lock her doors. She stops, gets out and often visits the places her charity benefits. That's what I call conquering your fears!
A heartfelt THANK YOU to Brooke for pushing past her fears and showing so many of us the success that is possible when we do the same!!!!
Run, Brooke, Run!!!!
Brooke; Congressman Jim Moran, 8th Dist. VA; Karyn Moran, Girls on the Run
Brooke; Alexandria Councilman Rob Krupicka
Margaret Patterson, Child and Family Network Centers; Brooke