“But I’ll tell you what I do have: A pair of sneakers. Two feet to put in them. Enough passion in my heart to organize people for a cause…”


Alison Desir (@powderedfeet), founder of @harlemrun, ran from Harlem to DC for the Women’s March to raise money for Planned Parenthood.

The effort gained such widespread support, they turned it into a relay which allowed additional people along the route to run with them. The total route entailed roughly two marathons each day. So far, they have raised more than double their goal of $44,000.

“Alison is a blogger, an endurance athlete, a mental health advocate and believer that sport has the power to change lives. Her blogger handle comes from the Haitian Creole saying “powdered feet,” an expression for someone on the move. She earned the nickname from her parents by always being a woman on the go, finding ways to stay active.

Alison established Harlem Run in 2013. This transformative movement of trendsetters, fitness experts, and community organizers has created an authentic experience around a healthy lifestyle in their community and the greater NYC area.” Quote sourced from Women’s Running Magazine.

Some powerful words from the woman herself: 

Turn on the news today and you can really fall into despair. Worse, you can feel helpless, like you can’t do anything to improve the world. I’ve heard it said that “If you want to become clinically depressed, turn on CNN,” And that couldn’t be any more true today.

On top of the current political climate and the myriad of injustices that are all around us, this past April, my father passed away. For 7 years I watched him deteriorate as Lewy Body Dementia took his mind and ravaged his body. That too made me feel helpless, as all I could do was watch as I slowly lost the most important man in my life.

The compounding effect of this recent loss and the news made me wonder if it was even worth it to do anything at all.

Sitting in my apartment, looking at my running sneakers and reflecting on the news, I decided at that moment to make a decision. I knew that I could sit there and despair, posting angry rants on Facebook with all of my friends about the state of the world or I could do SOMETHING; I could do something right now to make it better.

I launched the (4 Women) Run 4 All Women GoFundMe campaign on January 2 and, eight days later, we had reached the goal of raising $44K for Planned Parenthood.

Most people think you need to have tons of money to make a difference. Most people think you have to be Oprah or Bill Gates to make a difference. Most people think you need to have 50,000 followers on Instagram to get a message across. I don’t have any of that. In fact, I stand before you with less than $200 in my personal bank account. But I’ll tell you what I do have:

  1. A pair of sneakers.
  2. Two feet to put in them.
  3. Enough passion in my heart to organize people for a cause.
  4. And the willingness to sweat for what I want.

It’s like coach John Wooden says, “Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

Anybody at any point—who is looking at the situation around them—has an opportunity to make a choice. There is always something that you do have and always something that you can do.

What’s important is that you set a goal—and that you are willing to sweat for what you want. Pick a mission and organize other people—and the best reward is that you may inspire other people to do the same.

I’ll be honest: there will ALWAYS be a reason not to take action. Some “thing” that you don’t have. Some reason why you shouldn’t act. But, there is always something that you do have. Some resource and some personal reason that makes you best suited for the task at hand.

In my case, it was my sneakers, my two feet and my passion. And that was more than enough.

The bottom line is this, everyone has something to contribute. Don’t be stopped by your circumstances. Don’t let life happen to you. Stand up for what you believe in with whatever you have available to you. Be willing to sweat for it. Even better, inspire others to do the same.

@ppact  @PlannedParenthood.

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