by Kristen Hislop
Co-Directors Kristen Hislop and Patrick Lynskey with Barb White
You just finished up a major project at work and now you are already on to the next one. There is no fanfare, no celebration, no thank yous from people you've never met; unless you are a director of the Freihofer's Run for Women. Very few people understand all the moving parts that result in a 3-day event the week after Memorial Day each year (for the past 41 years). But thousands get to experience the results. Patrick Lynskey and I have been co directors of this epic event for the past 3 years.
Each year we try to do something a little better or differently. This year we introduced an ambassador program. Over 30 women applied to be ambassadors for the event. The chosen group shared their training, offered encouragement and a discount code, and each gave away 2 entries. Shea Foley is one of those ambassadors and has run the 5K since she was 11. A May 2019 graduate of Iona College and headed to medical school, which her Dad, Jim, encouraged her to do. Shea has been fundraising for Caring Together (a non-profit ovarian cancer research and support group) since her grandmother was diagnosed with the disease. Bringing awareness and additional funding to Caring Together was part of Shea's goal as an ambassador. One entry was used at the Bethlehem Lady Eagles track meet as a raffle. The other she gave to Mary Signorelli. Mary is a 3-year survivor who champions the cause and brings Columbia High School to our race and turns East Greenbush teal every year for the Teal Ribbon Run. Caring Together was chosen as a charity of choice for the 41st Freihofer's Run for Women and received a check for $5,000 on Friday.
Denise has run it all 41 years and is with Ambassador Kristen Garzone
We'd love to hear reactions to the notes women pick up with their shirts. Local school kids wrote and drew pictures on the cutest and most inspiring notes to our athletes. As I was waiting for the 3K finishers a woman came over to tell me what that note meant to her. She said she always struggles in the park. Doubt sets in and she slows, the race becomes hard. This year she picked up a note and it truly resonated with her. She pinned the note on the inside of her bib and when it got tough in the park she touched her bib. The result? A great race!
Swiping through the thousands of pictures you see tears, joy, smiles, victory, love, fatigue, pride and more. One of the photographers captured a woman just after the finish. She completely broke down with emotion. Last fall she unexpectedly lost her Dad. On Saturday she carried his spirit with her. This event will always be a little extra special for her. We had a transgender athlete race who bettered her 5K time, but more importantly felt the support and love of this event. It is impossible to capture in words the feelings at the start and finish. We always hope the pictures help tell the story.
Every once in a while someone tells me that they don't run because “it is too big an event.” It is so special due in part to the size. It is absolutely amazing when you get 3,000 women in one spot with the same overall goal. Get to the finish line. What makes it better is the number of different stories. No woman runs this event alone. You always have someone around you to support, encourage, challenge, and cheer you on. It is a must do for any woman in the Capital region. Women run fast and no so fast, they walk, they wheel, they challenge themselves and every one grows a bit on that Saturday morning.
So I consider myself blessed to have a job that allows me to be part of a extraordinary moment in thousands of women's lives. I'm extra blessed to have so many share what the event means to them in pictures and words. I know our mentors for the Training Challenge (10 week program that gets over 250 women ready for the race) feel the same. We get so much more out of it than we put in, so we will continue to pour our hearts into the event making it better, stronger, more empowering and wider reaching to touch as many women as we can!