Deborah Dunham

Writer. Activist. Athlete. Social Entrepreneur.

Nonprofit Work

I’m taking the classroom onto the road where life is the teacher.

I am a social entrepreneur whose philanthropic work spans the last decade. During that time, I have founded two nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to empowering youth with healthy lifestyles, confidence, respect and important life lessons:

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Call me an idealist, but I believe running can change the world.

If you have read Bart Yasso’s, My Life on the Run, chances are, you loved his insight into the sport. Here is one passage in particular from this book that I couldn’t agree with more:

“Running is about acceptance — of yourself and others. When you’re out on the trail sweating, it doesn’t matter if the guy or gal next to you works at a fast-food joint or is CEO of Kellogg’s. It doesn’t matter what color they are, or how old they are, or what religion they practice, if any at all.”

“Running celebrates our commonality. Are we human because we can run on two feet, or does running make us human? I know I feel more like myself when I run, even if it’s only a few miles, or at least I feel like the self I like best. Running inspires creativity, relieves stress, and gives us insight into ourselves and the world, making the human condition more tolerable.”

“But it is not enough to confine these benefits to ourselves. As runners, we each have a duty to accept the role as mentor to a slower runner or a new runner or someone who doesn’t think he or she can walk around the block, let alone finish a 5-K. Remember, we’re not some members of a snooty, noses-in-the-air fraternity. We are runners! So let’s spread the message. Can you imagine how grand this planet would be if everyone were a runner? Obesity? Not a problem. Depression? Never heard of it. Sluggishness? Get the hell out.”  ~Bart Yasso

This is why I run. I run for the way it makes me feel. Before a run, I am full of excitement, anticipation and focus on what I am about to do. During a run, I feel alive, free, beautiful, creative and strong with an I-can-do-anything attitude. After a run, I feel joyous, accomplished,  confident and ready to take on the world.

Over the years I have transitioned through many things in my life. I have moved from New York to Atlanta and now Florida. I have gone through the daily trials and triumphs of being married for 20 years and raising two boys. I have explored just about every sport from swimming to mountain biking to surfing to yoga. I have gone from the corporate world to independent marketing consulting to starting a nonprofit to freelance writing. I have made and lost some wonderful friends, survived the death of a parent and learned what is important to me in a relationship. Through it all, one thing has remained constant: running.

I, like Bart Yazzo, believe running can change the world. That may sound like a lofty, idealist goal, but I have seen the innumerable effects in myself and other runners over the years. Aside from the fact that running is something just about anyone can do with very little money or equipment, it is something we were born to do. Just watch the faces of children at the playground as they run. They move with such lightness, such fluidity, such joy. It is that feeling I strive to capture, and one that I hope to pass along to others.

During a trail run one day when my mind was wandering and contemplating the fate of the planet, I thought about how I could combine my love for running with the insatiable itch I have to do more for the world. It was then that I came up with the motto, “Why stand for something when you can run for something?”

With as much energy as I expend on the road, I want to take action off the roads too and find new and creative ways to serve others. Meaning, I want to use the power of running to help transform lives one step at a time by creating soul-filled programs for youth around the world. Enter: Marathon High and Girls on the Run of NE Florida.

The goal with these programs is to bridge the world of running and activism in a whole new way and give youth the tremendous gift of inner strength, power, beauty, connectiveness, wholeness and wellness.

By ourselves, we runners are already strong and capable individuals. But as a global community, imagine the potential impact we can have for positive and organized social change!

So…what do you stand for? Better yet, what do you run for?

~ Deborah Dunham, Writer. Runner. Activist.

If you would like to support my current work at Marathon High and empower more teenagers to become strong, healthy, confident, positive individuals, just click here to get involved. Thank you!!

 

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