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Our Bolder Spotlight of the month is Joanne! Not only does she rock her Bolder gear while she works out, she puts her outfits to good use when routinely running for charity. Between her positive personality and her uplifting cause, you’ll have a blast hearing a bit about her story:
Running is something I do for me and something that benefits others. Myself and running have a love/hate relationship and have for many years. I started running in my mid-twenties and then stopped. After that it was running because I had to while I was in the Army so it stopped being something fun. It wasn’t until my 40th birthday when running and I rekindled our relationship and races returned to my life. It may sound weird but I celebrated my 40th year running the WDW Princess Half Marathon with one of my best friends from high school who was also celebrating her 40th year. I took it one step further and ran the DL Half Marathon, completing the Coast to Coast Challenge.
As I got older and hopefully a little wiser, running became a release for me; mental therapy if you will. It was a time where I could unwind, calm down after a bad day, think, pray and become one with nature and it was helping my body become healthier. Most of my friends probably think I am a little crazy running 13.1 miles just for fun but they also understand it makes me a much happier person.
It was the end of 2014 after I retired from the Army (after 24 years) when I started thinking about how I could start giving back and then a television commercial for St. Jude was playing which caught my interest. As a child, I remember Danny Thomas commercials for St. Jude but as a child, you don’t really think much past the commercial. So I immediately went to Google and did my research on St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and although I knew it was for childhood cancer, I never realized what was hiding behind the curtain; cancer research, medical training, patient care, family care/support, sharing medical findings with other cancer hospitals. All of this and more for patients and their families and NEVER does ANY family receive a bill from St. Jude. Imagine the relief of stress from those parents who don’t have to figure out how to pay to get their child healthy. Hard to fathom.
It was like a light bulb went off inside me and it was then and there that I decided to sign up as a St. Jude Hero, someone who raises money for St. Jude and competes in running, walking, biking events. My first race as St. Jude Hero was my birthday weekend in April of 2015 in Nashville,Tennessee. There are an indescribable amount of emotions flowing in the room when you attend the sponsored pasta dinner and former patients of the hospital get up on stage and share their story of how St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital changed their lives. Heck, I’m tearing up right now thinking about it as I type. I knew without a doubt this was a calling to my heart and soul and away I could continue to give back and help others.
Running 13.1 miles for anyone isn’t always fun so I came up with the bright idea of dressing up as a superhero since after all, I was a St. Jude Hero. So every year for the past 6 years, I dressed up as a different superhero and ran the course being goofy, bringing smiles from runners and crowd supporters alike.
Before becoming a St. Jude Hero I was already familiar with Sparkle Skirts so I knew who my go-to was for my running costumes. And now that it’s been rebranded as Bolder Athletic Wear, you will see me on my training runs or on the race course in my skirts, capris or performance shorts leading the way to smiles and doing good for others by supporting St. Jude.
The first year I was a little nervous about asking people for money because let’s face it, who wants to do that?! Can you say awkward? ;-)
Surprisingly, at least to me, I had no problem raising the first year’s fundraising goal. I boldly raised the goal for the second year and again, my friends and family had no qualms about donating to the cause. Each year, I raised the goal and the donations continued to come in.
2020 was an interesting year since because of the COVID restrictions, the Memphis RNR half marathon I was originally scheduled for was cancelled. The official race may have been cancelled but I was not about to let that stop my fundraising or running for St. Jude. So I planned out my superhero costume and a local course for 13.1 miles and picked a date. Unfortunately the date I picked was one where the temperatures dropped and the wind was crazy BUT I donned my costume, grabbed my earmuffs and got out there to do what I promised to do for the kids at St. Jude.
This year will be the 7th year running as a St. Jude Hero and again I’ve raised the fundraising goal. I still have 3 months until the RNR Savannah half marathon in November and already I’m at 79% of this year’s goal of $4,000. I will continue to be a humble servant to the kids at St. Jude as long as my body allows me to. Currently I have back, knee and hip issues so I may not be as fast as I once was but I’m still out there doing it for the kids. I don’t care if I am out there one day walking with a cane or a walker, you will still see me supporting the children at St. Jude and you can bet your running shoes I will be wearing a superhero costume.
Next year I’ll be celebrating my 50th birthday so I’d love to meet and surpass the 2022 goal of $5,000. My goal is to one day reach the fundraising goal of $10,000.
I run for St. Jude!
Joanne Blatchley (IAmAStJudeHero) #StJudeHeroes #StJudeHeroesInTraining #BolderAthleticAmbassador #ServantHeart