by Friends of Ebonie
On Sunday, September 7, 2014 running and health enthusiasts gathered in Atlanta, Georgia, for the Black Girls Run! Sweat With Your Sole Festival, to benefit and run for a good cause. That cause is not only their own health, but also for the health of kids at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. We had the opportunity to catch up with the recipients of the “Oprah’s the Life You Want Weekend” Toyota “Standing O-vation” Award, Black Girls Run! co-founder Ashley Hicks. We chatted with Ashley to learn more about the national running organization’s commitment to St. Jude as St. Jude Heroes.
The BGR! running group started a national movement in 2009 when founders Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks decided to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African-American community and provide encouragement and resources to both new and veteran runners. Black Girls RUN! has since grown to include more than 100,000 African-American women with running groups located in most major markets across the country. BGR! is taking their mission of encouraging women to embrace the importance of personal health through the sport of running a step further by making their miles count for St. Jude kids battling cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
With a goal of raising $25K the Black Girls RUN! St. Jude Heroes team is committed to support St. Jude through various races across the country.
Friends of Ebonie: Congratulations on a successful race today!
Ashley Hicks: Thank you!
Friends: Tell me a little bit more about the conference that precedes the run. Who were a few of the notable speakers and trainers?
AH: The conference consisted of active sessions and lecture sessions for the women who are registered to run the race. The lecture sessions are a great way for the ladies to learn about being healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The purpose of the conference is to educate. We include fun ways to be active, like different types of yoga, and exercises like hip openers. You can’t run all the time so you have to have other activities that complement the running.
The women also took part in everything from yoga with Octavia Raheem to healthy cooking classes, to Standing Abs with The Ab Guru, DaShaun Johnson and a cardio dance class with celebrity choreographer, Victor Jackson.
Friends: That’s awesome. So tell us how you connected running with St. Jude and what your visit was like to the hospital. How did that impact your commitment to become St. Jude Heroes?
AH: The visit to St. Jude was really eye opening. Let me say that first, I’ve never been personally impacted by cancer in my family so it was eye opening to see the families at St. Jude. I learned that it takes nearly $2 million a day to run the hospital. It was really incredible to know someone had the vision to create something like this. Talking to the patients and the parents, knowing they go through so much was touching. St. Jude has provided so much to help them through a tough situation. It was eye opening to see so many African-American patients too. It reminded us that childhood cancer and other deadly diseases like sickle cell, are a very real issue in our community.
After visiting, Toni and I said we had to so something to partner with St. Jude. And so we committed to becoming St. Jude Heroes.
Friends: Can people still sign up to run and support the BGR! Heroes team? And if they can’t make it to a run, where can someone make a donation?
AH: Yes, we have three races coming up. You can sign up, make a donation or learn more at: fundraising.stjude.org/bgr
Remaining race schedule:
|October 12||Bank of America Chicago Marathon|
|November 8||Savannah Rock n Roll|
|December 6||St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend|
It was great to chat with Ashley and learn more about the growing increase of awareness about childhood cancer. It was also awesome to learn that St. Jude patient, Naudia, welcomed race participants and cut the ribbon for the race!
Naudia is a 20-year-old patient with sarcoma. Naudia’s treatment includes chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Knowing that she’ll, “never receive a bill is amazing,” Naudia said. “It’s truly a blessing.” Because the majority of St. Jude funding comes from everyday people and organizations like Black Girls Run!, St. Jude has the freedom to focus on what matters most – saving kids regardless of their financial situation.
Learn more about how you can partner with St. Jude and help it fulfill Danny Thomas’ dream for “no child to die in the dawn of life.”