In Your Community: Pioneers Go the Distance

By Debra Manley, Billing Operations Analysts, Finance Billing Operations, AT&T
Aug 25, 2016 1:25 PM ET

In 2008, I began running as a way to stay fit and healthy.  I never dreamed it would turn into so much more. After my husband passed away suddenly in 2010, I turned to running to find some peace of mind. It became my solace and offered me clarity. I can’t believe all the running goals I’ve accomplished; 2 full marathons, 8 half marathons and countless shorter races. Running has shaped my life not only physically but more importantly, mentally. I have a love and a passion for running that I want to share with others. They can take that feeling of accomplishment and pride from running and apply it in all areas of their lives.

I’ve been participating in a nationwide initiative with the AT&T Pioneers called Pioneers Go the Distance for Charity Miles. The initiative encourages both a healthy lifestyle and helps you raise money for your favorite charity. It uses an app called Charity Miles where individuals can participate on the AT&T Pioneer Team and raise money for one of about 30 charities when they walk/run/bike. You can even run or walk indoors. In the summer, I often take advantage of this feature to avoid the Tampa heat and thunderstorms and run on my treadmill. I’ve been using the app since 2015 and donating to the charity Girls on the Run.

Girls on the Run is a transformational youth development program for girls in 3rd-8th grade that teaches life skills through dynamic interactive lessons and running games. The goal of the program is to unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness. The program culminates with the girls being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5K running event. 

I have volunteered at celebratory 5k’s here in Tampa.  As a “sparkle runner”, I ran and cheered, as well as made sure that no girl ran alone and no one finished last. The event was so much fun! It really exemplified everything I love about running.

I’m even more excited that my local Pioneer chapter in Tampa sponsored Girls on the Run Tampa this spring. I’m looking forward to raising more money via the Charity Miles app and volunteering at the next 5K event.  Participating with Girls on the Run has allowed me to share the gifts that running has given me with a new generation. 

My fellow Pioneers have run or biked 12,139 miles and raised $2,565 for a variety of charities already this year. We really do go the distance for our health and for our communities.