News: Award worth running for
Story by Cpl. Melissa Karnath
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - A military wife and mother from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., was recognized this month for founding Stroller Warriors Running Club.
Stephanie Geraghty began Stroller Warriors as a free running club for military spouses and their family members. The club’s mission is to help military families around the world live happier, healthier lives through fitness, friendship, leadership, goal-setting, networking, fundraising and community outreach.
Geraghty began the group before her husband, Gunnery Sgt. Brian Geraghty, was deployed with Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command in 2010.
“Steph wanted to meet some friends when we moved to the Camp Lejeune area that had common interests with her,” said Brian. “From the start, she wanted to grow a group that would have a network of friends to help through deployments and daily life as a military spouse.”
Stephanie was worried and intimidated by the idea of being responsible for everything at home alone by herself for seven months. Her family was new to the area, and she hardly knew anyone.
After she failed to find a support group that involved running and would include her children, Stephanie invited other women to share in her passion for running. The group began to form when three women gathered during a frosty day in January 2010. The women went on a short run, pushing their bundled children in strollers. The runners spoke with other women they knew and met about the group.
Over the course of several months, the casual group began to grow with more women participating and encouraging each other with positive support.
“Stroller Warriors was our family’s saving grace -- it was a constant in our lives, it was something positive,” Stephanie said.
The running group also gave Brian more peace of mind while he was deployed, said Stephanie. He knew Stephanie had others around her who were in similar situations and the group would also serve as a support network.
Throughout 2010, the group expanded to various locations across the country when members moved away and started chapters at their new duty stations. The group also became international later that year when a chapter was established in Okinawa, Japan.
Stroller Warriors also provides outreach by welcoming new members before they arrive at their new locations. Julianne Murphy, a Marine spouse and mother joined the group after she saw them running at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. Murphy moved to Hawaii with her family earlier this year and appreciated how Stroller Warriors welcomed and supported her when she reached out to the group there.
“I’ve met a lot of new friends,” Murphy said. “It really makes a big difference in people’s lives.”
The group also hosts events that don’t include running such as crafts or activities with their children. “It’s great time to socialize with people who are in the same stage of life as me and share common interests,” Murphy said.
The group has grown to include more than 3,300 members and continues to expand every day.
“I end up meeting Marines who have wives in Stroller Warriors, and they are always excited to share with me that their wife has found good friends, camaraderie and are enjoying working out,” Brian said. “I have been told many times how their wives have lost weight or are really getting into running.”
Stephanie was recognized for founding Stroller Warriors and how the group has expanded when she was featured in Military Spouse Magazine as the Armed Forces Insurance 2012 Marine Corps Spouse of the Year. The magazine then nominated her for the 2013 USAA Athletic Inspiration Award and she was announced the winner Nov. 7, 2013.
“I was extremely humbled and honored to even be considered for the award,” Stephanie said. “To actually win was sort of unbelievable.”
The Club’s vision is to secure a place for Stroller Warrior chapters in military communities around the world. Stephanie is hopeful that receiving the award will give the group more opportunities to reach more women and military families. She is thrilled to give back to the community and the military through Stroller Warriors.
“I just really enjoy giving my time to doing something positive to impact others,” said Stephanie. “This was a way I could finally give back to my military family….a way to return all the blessings that [the military] has bestowed on me.”
For more information about Stroller Warriors please contact the group:
Web Site: www.strollerwarriors.com