Stroller Warriors® has been a part of my life now for almost 10 years! I first heard about this running club while at 29 Palms California. We moved there in the summer of 2013 with a 2-year-old, and I was around 30 weeks pregnant. I met someone at a playground who also had a boy close in age. After finding out I liked to run, she mentioned that a running club was starting up on base! SW29 started that November, and I attended my first workout shortly thereafter. I was in a new place with a toddler and a newborn, so having this running club start-up was perfect timing!
If you have ever been to 29 Palms, you know there's not a whole lot to do in the desert. However, I will say, 29 Palms holds a special place in my heart, and it is all because of Stroller Warriors. I have been running pretty much my whole life as I participated in track and cross-country throughout middle school. But I never really loved to run, it was just a way to get exercise. That all changed once I found how fun running could be with the right people running alongside me! SW29 pushed me to do things I never thought I would do, like running a marathon and participating in the SW’s hosted Triathlon. I became a workout leader for SW29 in March of 2014. Little did I know our family's life was about to get some unwelcome news. That same month my husband was sent to Balboa Medical Center where he was diagnosed with colon cancer at 29 years old. I still remember soon after finding out, going on a long weekend run with four other Stroller Warriors-- even though I had not known them for long, I felt their love and support as I told them what we were going through. The military was willing to move us to be closer to Balboa since my husband needed chemo treatments every 2 weeks for 6 months. But the support we had from SW29, as well as his unit, made it an easy decision for us to stay and make the drive. The founder and current coordinator at SW29, Megan, wanted to help in any way possible. Of course, the chapter quickly organized and supplied a meal train for us. But Megan went a step further and wanted to fundraise for us too. Our family felt so supported already, so we asked that the fundraising efforts be donated to the San Diego Fisher House where I was staying with our 3-year-old and 7-month-old during my husband's treatments. If you are unfamiliar with the Fisher House, it is a nonprofit that offers free lodging as “a ‘home away from home’ for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers.” That October, the chapter ended up raising over $2,600 and the members ran a total of 20 miles around the desert!
I was then a chapter coordinator at 29 Palms from May 2015 until June 2016. That summer, we had orders to Quantico which had no SW chapter. However, luckily in October, Kelly opened a chapter! And while Kelly will joke that it took her forever to get me on her team, I came on the Headquarters team as a regional mentor in November of that year, and as a co-coordinator in Quantico a month later in December. I could not imagine my life without this club, and I wanted to try and give back as much as this club has given to me and my family. I am now stationed in Kaneohe Bay where I have been coordinating since December of 2019.
At this point, I absolutely love to run and do not necessarily need Stroller Warriors to get in my runs. But I keep coming back, even at this point when all our kids are now out of strollers and in school because Stroller Warriors is SO much more than just a running club. I am thankful for this club, which has given me lifelong friends even through this crazy military life. It is not just a group of runners, but a group of friends, who motivate and support you through life. It is an amazing example to our kids as it shows our hard work and that you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it. All three of our boys have grown up with Stroller Warriors. It is where they met their first friends, and it is always the first thing we look for and become involved with when we move to a new duty station. They all started in the stroller, graduated to riding alongside the stroller on their bikes, to even running with us! Our oldest, who is now almost 12, ran his first half marathon last year on his 11th birthday. He continues to amaze us with his running ambitions. Our middle, 9-year-old, ran multiple base 5ks here on the island and always surprises us when he ends up wanting to race and give it his all! Our youngest, who is 6, helped with training runs when my husband was out-of-town and is up to 6 miles on his bike. All three look forward to mini miles each summer and pushing themselves because they see the importance of being active and realize how much fun running can be! I cannot say enough about this wonderful club. It is a huge part of our life and that is why I continue to volunteer!
Community outreach is an important aspect of the Stroller Warriors® mission. Our chapters continue to coordinate and participate in outreach projects that benefit the community at large. At the onset of 2023, several of our chapters hit the ground running with the community outreach initiatives:
Stroller Warriors Kaneohe Bay organized a shoe collection of gently used shoes for Runners HI— accepting any style of shoes, but specifically running shoes. Runners HI will then distribute the shoes to those in need! Over a duration of 12 days, the SW leadership collected the shoes at scheduled workouts, or members could donate through a shoe drop option at a chapter coordinator’s home. The goal was to collect 50 pairs of shoes and the chapter far exceeded their goal with 125 pairs of shoes. Stroller Warriors Kaneohe Bay also continued with their monthly beach clean-up initiative. On the last Monday of each month, members gather at Fort Hase Beach for a beach sweep— dedicating an hour each month to collect microplastics and garbage at one of their favorite locations on base. Prior to beach clean-ups, the chapter leadership team provides gloves, bags, buckets and sifters.
Stroller Warriors Charleston kept busy spreading the word about Stroller Warriors and our dynamic and uplifting community. In January, the leadership team collaborated with a JB Charleston Military Family Life Counselor (MFLC) at a new spouse’s welcome coffee event at the Naval Weapons Station. Not only did the leadership speak about the Stroller Warriors community’s love and support, but they showed the group the unique aspects of Stroller Warriors by leading a dynamic stretch, organizing a small art activity by decorating lunch sacks, and by partaking in a community outreach initiative by filling the bags with snacks for the Low Country Blessing Box Project. Additionally, the Military and Family Readiness Center (MFRC) invited Stroller Warriors Charleston to speak and organize a resource table at the Loved Ones All-Call hosted by the 437 AW/OG in preparation for upcoming deployments. The chapter ended the month with a donation drive for the Charleston Fisher House— collecting a shopping cart filled with paper towels, toilet paper, tissues, cleaning supplies and snacks.
Stroller Warriors Fort Belvoir encouraged members to get moving through a month-long February Movement Challenge to raise awareness for Stop Soldiers Suicide. The mission of Stop Soldiers Suicide is simple, yet profound— to stop soldier suicide in all branches. SW leadership raised awareness of Stop Soldiers Suicide by urging participants to work together to achieve a 60-mile movement goal during February. They surpassed their 60-mile chapter goal and logged 417.53 miles! If you or someone you know has thought about suicide, please reach out for help. A 24/7 help line is available at 844-613-0403.
Thank you, Stroller Warriors, for your continued commitment to service! You are what makes this world a brighter place— one community outreach event at a time!