April 28th, 2012
09:53 AM ET

Running group turns into nationwide movement

African-American women are joining forces to battle the alarming rates of heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity that are affecting millions of Americans.

The movement is called Black Girls Run!, and it was formed to encourage women of color to get fit and live healthier lifestyles.

Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks are the creators of Black Girls Run! They wanted to drop some pounds and get in shape, but they soon saw their personal goals turning into a nationwide movement.

"I had no idea that Black Girls Run! was going to grow to be this size," Hicks said. "Toni and I feel really blessed and excited that we are able to help so many people."

Growing in size may be an understatement. Thanks to social media and word of mouth, Black Girls Run! now has 60 groups across the country.

The group's Facebook page and Twitter updates allow over 25,000 members to share their 'runavations' while inspiring others to overcome whatever obstacles they may have in order to exercise.

Before joining Black Girls Run!, Shahidah Hamlett of Washington lost 30 pounds using a combination of boot camp-style training, boxing and running. After seeing how women were keeping tabs on their mileage by posting their goals on BGR's Facebook page, she decided to jump in and join them.

"It encouraged me to attend standing runs and increase my mileage per week," said Hamlett. "I decided if I am doing this amount of miles I might as well train for a half marathon." In March, Hamlett saw her efforts pay off when she successfully completed the DC Rock n' Roll' Half Marathon.

The leaders of each chapter of BGR work diligently to register members for nearby races, hand out information about training plans, and offer guidance on where to find the best running gear.

BGR's ambassadors run the gamut. Everyone from seasoned ultra marathoners to people who are lacing up running shoes for the first time. The ambassadors exude enthusiasm for the ladies and their running journeys.

Meg Guilford, the BGR D.C. ambassador, is a former javelin thrower for Penn State's track and field team. Athletics has always been a huge part of her life, but Guilford's active lifestyle came to a halt two years ago when she experienced a massive multiple sclerosis attack that left her in a wheelchair for three months.

After spending the summer in a rehabilitation hospital, Guilford gradually went from the use of a wheelchair to a walker and then to a cane. Guilford says she is optimistic about her recovery. "I'm better than I was, but I think with the help of Black Girls Run! I can be better than I am," she said.

Ebony Adams was another newbie to Black Girls Run! The mother of two admits she didn't have much of a fitness routine. "Living in Washington, D.C., I would drive around and see people outside running," she said, "I would say 'that's not me, I can't do it.' In fact, I thought I was allergic to running."

A year later, Adams is a bona fide runner and can easily crank out 5 kilometers. "Running makes me feel empowered," Adams said.

Juanne Harris, a native New Yorker and active runner, says, "it's life-changing to see what it does for the women in the group. When someone comes to you and says, I can't believe I'm running, I'm asthmatic, or I lost 20 pounds and I've met my goal weight, it's inspiring."

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soundoff (133 Responses)
  1. chrissy

    Lmao now thats extremely doubtful!

    April 29, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    Ed was in trouble. He forgot his wedding anniversary. His wife was really angry.

    She told him, "Tomorrow morning, I expect to find a gift in the driveway that goes from 0 to 200 in less then 6 seconds AND IT BETTER BE THERE!!"

    The next morning Ed got up early and left for work. When his wife woke up she looked out the window and sure enough there was a box gift-wrapped in the middle of the driveway. Confused, the wife put on her robe and ran out to the driveway, and brought the box back in the house.

    She opened it and found a brand new bathroom scale.

    Ed has been missing since Friday.

    April 29, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. chrissy

    @ bobcat, another day in paradise eh? Or troll hell, however you wanta look at it i guess.

    April 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat) ©

      @ chrissy
      I really don't understand CNNs priorities. They have a problem with people that go off topic, but when it comes to these nasty mouthed trolls, they let the posts stay up. Go figure.

      April 29, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    HOW TO STOP PEOPLE FROM BUGGING YOU ABOUT GETTING MARRIED

    Old aunts used to come up to me at weddings, poking me in the ribs and cackling, telling me, "You're next." They stopped after I started doing the same thing to them at funerals.

    April 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. chrissy

    Hmmm im tryin real hard to figuer out why cnn chooses to delete SOME of the nasty troll works but leaves the majority! Im becomming very disillusioned with this, my once favorite, network!

    April 29, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    This was a meesage on a tombstone in Thurmond, Md.

    Here lies an Atheist, all dressed up and no place to go

    April 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. chrissy

    lol funny bobcat ty! @ CNN, why cant you reguire a password to a U/N? It would be more cost efficient than the useless moderators youve employed. And would save you and your readers alot of unneccessary agravation! Yahoo had this system in place for 20yrs

    April 29, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    @ THE Chef (dazzle's Ex)

    You may not see my comment to you, as it is awaiting moderation.

    April 29, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. chrissy

    Ty philip & company, trolling as the CEO of CNN? Thats an all time low for you isnt it? If i wanted YOUR opinion i wouldve asked you for it.

    April 29, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. chrissy

    I just made a batch of banasy's perfume. It's called Butt Sweat. It is my favorite.

    April 29, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. chrissy

    I have a bad case of the squirts...too much Taco Bell I think.

    April 29, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. banasy©

    Thank you for the jokes, bc(iah).

    April 29, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. chrissy

    LMAO wrong, troll! I know you gave it ur best, but just like you, it wasnt good enough! I am not leaving!

    April 29, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      It is so encouraging to see women of color surmounting the challenges heaped upon them by years of neo con neglect. Bush and Cheney's heartless capitalism is responsible for the disadvantaged communities of America. But, change is in the wind! The greedy will pay their fair share and social justice will reign across the land!

      May 1, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. Curious in Colorado

    How strange not to see any new articles here for so long. Is it always like this on weekends? Anyone?

    April 29, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. chrissy

    Yep curious it always is! Just as its always troll heaven/hell!

    April 29, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
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