In this, this holiday season brimming with parties, cookie swaps, and your 17th trip to Target just this week alone, it’s nice to be able to simply pause, and reflect on Love. The love shared by a mother for her child. The love shared by a mother with running, walking, daydreaming, and hoping. I’d like to introduce you to one dynamic Mother, and a cause she championed and has, quite literally, run with.
Heart Strides, a non-profit organization paring Mothers up with a not often thought of necessity- running shoes, was dreamt up by Denise Dollar, of Boulder, Colorado. Denise, a mother of two, came up with the idea behind Heart Strides when a moment of inspiration hit as she was at home washing dishes. While struggling with the recent and heart wrenching news of her son being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes—and later recognized as being on the autism spectrum—she did as many other mothers of children with special needs do: She went into survival mode. Every waking moment became an opportunity to focus her attention on getting her son the help he needed and helping her family unit continue to work, and, like most mothers do in similar situations, let her own self care take a back seat.
So she started running, and for years looked for ways to connect with other moms who were going through a similar situation, all so she could communicate to them the important lesson she had learned. Her mantra became, How can I help? How can I help?
And within 24 hours, of her dish washing epiphany, she had come up with the name Heart Strides, which initially was intended only as a quick-hitting Facebook project that would raise money for running shoes she would donate to mothers of children who are critically ill or have special needs. That was July 2014, and by October of that same year, she’d turned her “project” into a full-fledged non-profit organization.
“Through it all,” says Denise, “it has been very important to me to stay true to my mission, knowing that big things can result from small actions.”
Our mission is to support Moms during a time when they are least likely to make their health a priority. To achieve this mission, we provide new running shoes to Moms caring for children with a critical/chronic illness or a special need.
*From left to right, Denise, myself, Dimity McDowell from Another Mother Runner, and my fellow mother runner, Erin*
I had the absolute honor of meeting Denise at a couple running events this past year. We hit it off immediately, and once I learned about the work this powerful mother runner champions, immediate fangirling commenced. Denise is also one of the moms behind the Another Mother Runner empire. These women know how to get things done, and Denise’s power and passion behind Heart Strides is no exception.
From the Heart Strides website:
We all know that making our health a priority is the best gift we could give, not only to ourselves, but to those around us. With the right gear; like proper running shoes, tech shirts, running socks and community; we can help our Moms move in the right direction.
For many Moms, the arrival of these shoes will come at a time when they are just getting started.
Some of our Moms will use their new shoes to participate in events that are near and dear to their hearts. They will run, walk, advocate and fundraise for causes that have become a part of their family’s life. The finish lines they cross will empower them and bring them closer to the cures they are fighting for.
Other Moms will wear their shoes to walk around the block or follow the sidewalks of a hospital campus. Many of our Moms will be coming back to running after taking time off while caring for their child.
You can help further Denise’s mission of bringing other mother runners the gift of clarity, love, self-care, and most importantly, HOPE this holiday season. If you are so inclined, you can find out how to donate to Heart Strides here, and be sure to check them out on Facebook for more inspiration.