Inspiration can be found in the most unlikely places.
Hard work and passion are universal values. Whether it is found in the form of a young girl’s first perfect pair of running shoes, or getting an A on a physics test, the satisfaction is the same: You can succeed.
“Did you hear about the Afghan female runner who disappeared? She was on a training run and never came back. She was scheduled to compete in Beijing.” I am told this over coffee with an Afghani friend.
Everyone, of course, knows the quagmire that is Afghanistan, but I had not heard about an Afghan female who qualified for the 2008 Olympics.
“What happened to her?” “No one knows. She just disappeared one day.” I was moved by the story of 19-year-old Mehbooba Ahdyar. Growing up in Afghanistan, she found early on, she had an affinity for this sport. She began running in road races at the age of 15 and moved to track two years later. By 2007, she broke national records for the 800m and 1500m. Along the way, her family suffered cultural disapproval for supporting her athletic endeavors. The unofficial report: she may have disappeared in order to seek asylum in Norway.
Sadly, Mehbooba is part of a growing number of women in troubled countries who try to overcome their circumstances and rise above it. Unfortunately, her tale is not an uncommon one. I was fortunate to hear Ruchira Gupta, the founding member of Apne Aap, speak at our local library. A former journalist, she has devoted her life to helping at risk Indian girls by providing them with shelter and schooling. Her organization enables “women and girls to form self-empowerment groups that help rescue themselves and transform their communities.” Their plight has inspired movies like “Half the Sky” and our own Katonah group, KEEP, that raises money and provides local pen pals for the girls.
As a runner and former educator, I was inspired by their tales. Running and learning are a natural part of our lives as women. The fact this is not the norm seems incomprehensible in our world of GPS devices, and manned space stations.
How can we make a difference?
The Running Goddess is an organization celebrating women. Bringing girls opportunities to excel in life through education and health is our goal. This resonates with me and I hope it will for you and the men in your lives too.
As women, a sound mind and sound body are things we should never take for granted. By participating in our race, show your support by simply putting one foot in front of the other.
Inspiration can be found in the most unlikely places. Get inspired and make a difference today.