When the “Run to Napa” contest was announced this week, I was ecstatic. I mean, who wouldn’t be – the opportunity for an all-expense paid trip to an incredible destination with the added bonus of bringing a reader? Wow! I entered immediately, and began to rally for votes.
Since the voting process is done through Facebook, and is essentially a tally of clicks, within hours, I began to realize that this was a popularity contest that would be challenging to win. Now, I don’t state that in a defeatist way, but as a realistic one – the person with the largest online network is going to be the one who wins. No sour grapes – building up yourself as a brand is rough! However, I did want to take the opportunity to address the theme of the contest, which is Inspiration.
“You’ve inspired us and your readers, now we want to invite you to ‘Run to Napa’ with ZOOMA’s inspirational blogger contest,” the image announces…and here, a few days after my first ZOOMA experience, I can definitely attest that attending a ZOOMA event is the perfect venue to celebrate life in a wholly motivating and inspiring atmosphere. But, if this contest is measuring the MOST inspirational blogger, is that synonymous with the highest number of votes? I can see both sides of that argument, and over the past few days, have been working to express my thoughts on the matter.
As much as I believe that I am AN inspirational blogger, I know 100 percent that I am not THE most inspirational blogger. I receive messages, emails, and simple notes from readers, twitter followers, and fellow bloggers, which is incredibly gratifying to me, and provides the inspiration for me to continue to share my stories. To my husband’s chagrin, I don’t make money off of my blog – I do it for the love of it, and do my best to keep it free of senseless advertisements, choosing instead to highlight products/services I actually use, and when a sponsored opportunity comes about, any income it produces goes toward charity – either my own fundraising efforts, or that of a fellow charity runner.
My story, in itself, as not the most inspirational one – I mean, I started running to get active, and almost four years later, I’ve learned a lot, shared a lot, and have discovered my love of endurance events. I train regularly to achieve my goals. With the right mindset, I really do believe that you can do anything.
No, I am not the most inspirational, but through my blog, I have had so many amazing opportunities to meet others who are, and share their stories. Here are just a few I’d like to share:
(1) Robin Nichols - I can’t pinpoint the moment, the date, or even the year that I first came across Robin, but I feel like we became instant friends. She’s a mommy of two that challenged herself to run the Walt Disney World Marathon as a kickstart to her weight-loss journey, and has since rocked 16+ marathons, even qualifying (multiple times) and running Boston.
(2) Dani Holmes-Kirk - As a weight-watchers leader, Dani demonstrates daily (see that alliteration!?) that losing and maintaining weight is a challenge that is worth it everyday. Through her race recaps, twitter chats and more, she provides inspiration daily with her positive, yet realistic outlook on healthy living.
(3) Jamie Brubaker-Wane – Working on the front lines of Amercia’s most popular destination was incredible, and an experience I will never forget – and this is all thanks to the people – guests, colleagues, and of course, my fellow Cast Members. In 2007, I worked at Soarin’, and met a lovely young lady named Jamie – probably the sweetest and most caring person I had ever met. Tragically, her life was taken far too soon, and she left behind a husband and daughter – but no one could take her spirit! In 2012, I ran the Baltimore Marathon and saw her face once again, on the back of a charity runner. Her legacy of giving lives on, and I truly believe love and inspiration are things that last forever.
(4) Michele King - Juggling life and shattering personal goals – these are two things that Michele showcases daily on her blog. As a Military Veteran, Michele demonstrates the challenges and reward of maintaining discipline in one of the most hectic and wonderful careers possible: motherhood! She never boasts about her accomplishments, though they are many!
(5) Erin Henderson - Whenever I feel like I have too much on my plate, I think about Erin. Not only did she log 3,480 miles last year on her quest to qualify for the Olympic Trials, but she did it while caring for 12-children – and no, that is not a typo! She and her husband have 12 amazing children, and her youngest has severe disabilities – a challenge she only sees as inspiration.
(6) Krysten Siba Bishop - her blog “The Misadventures of a Darwinian Fail” may sound like fodder for a humorous story, but the truth is, her real-life struggles are anything but – though she never wallows in them. Positive energy, an incredible support system, and an innate drive to succeed showcase her incredible attitude through any challenge that is in her way.
(7) Laura Rose Monk – when I first became involved with Team in Training, I did not have a personal connection to cancer, but within weeks, I found out what drove me to the cause: an honored hero. You see, Laura became a very young widow when her husband, a 22-year old soldier in the U.S. Army, lost his battle, not on a field worlds away, but to Leukemia. Losing a spouse is never easy, but even at her young age, she moved forward with grace, and she continues to be an inspiration to many in her work toward providing support and encouragement to other young women.
(8) Morgan Crutchfield – Have you ever dreamed of packing up everything to follow a dream? Well, she’s doing it, and despite the struggles, she’s pouring blood, sweat and tears into her vision of providing the most timely and helpful information for optimal Disney Vacation planning. Morgan demonstrates everyday, to her young son, her supporters (and haters!) that no matter what your passion is, it’s worth pursuing it.
(9) runemz - It wasn’t until I started writing this list that I realized I don’t even know Emily’s full name, but really, here’s what you NEED to know: she’ll make your whining about a short treadmill run look just silly. I mean…SHE RAN 24 HOURS. 100+ miles! To raise money for a non-profit that serves students and teachers in India. Need I say more?
You see, through blogging, I have met some of the most inspirational, incredible role models, and fantastic women – and this is why I want to continue to give back, to share, and celebrate inspiration.
I’d really appreciate your vote, and even if I don’t make the top 3, I just want to thank YOU all for inspiring me to even ask. And while you’re on the voting page, I challenge you to check out some new bloggers, add them to your reader list, so we can all continue this cycle of inspiration.
Who inspires you? Please leave links, I’d love to share them!