Wednesday, October 7, 2015

#untilshecan - An Interview with Kristen Griffin

Team GP2C is made up of runners, walkers, hikers, bikers and swimmers from all across the country. In 2015 alone so far this amazing group has logged over 6,000 miles.

Today we'd like to highlight Kristen Griffin. She runs in honor of her cousin Martilee who suffers from Rett Syndrome. Kristen has run for Team GP2C in our Disney races as well as other races around the country. She was also part of the six-person Ultra Ragnar Team with Sparkle Athletic that raised $54,000 for RSRT, our research partner.

"I will continue to run with GP2C as long as I can run, and until these girls can run along side us."

How did you get involved with GP2C?

My aunt Vanessa ran the Disney Princess Half with GP2C in February of 2013 for her daughter Martilee who has Rett Syndrome. I ran my first half marathon that April as well. I became so inspired by Vanessa's fundraising efforts and doing something so hard for M that after seeing all the pictures and notes of thanks, I decided I wanted to do something for M as well. In June I got married, so M was then officially my cousin! The day we got back from our honeymoon, the Disney Princess Half opened for the 2014 race. I signed up literally within half an hour of getting home because I wanted an opportunity to give back, and GP2C was the only option as their efforts hit so close to home. It was at that race that I really learned what Rett Syndrome can do to a family and why it needs to end. It was also at that race that Vanessa talked me into (in a good way!) completing a half marathon in all 50 states. I decided I'd do it for M.

What inspired you to become an athlete?

I've been an athlete my entire life, competing through high school and college. The real struggle for motivation to continue came after I graduated college and didn't have a coach to expect me to show up and give me direction. I really think that finding GP2C and having Rett Syndrome to fight against came at the right time for me to keep going. I expected to be a "one and done" half marathoner, but now GP2C has inspired me to keep going and do what I can for these girls!

Kristen's inspiration! This is her beautiful cousin Martilee.

What is your favorite part of running for Team GP2C?

My family has grown and I've been welcomed in with open arms! It's so humbling. I've been given a true gift. Not only am I pretty good at running but I ENJOY it! My races are taking me to all 50 states, so I get to meet up with families I've met or ran for, all over the US. I post a photo of what I'm going to wear in a race, and I get so many comments of "thanks for running for my girl" or "my daughter and I wish you good luck!" It's brought me to tears more than once and I love seeing all the words of hope.

What keeps you coming back?

The whole family aspect is amazing. I haven't met nicer or more welcoming people anywhere else. It doesn't matter that some of us can run a half marathon in half the time that others on the team can. We all stay to cheer on the team through the finish. We might see a Flower on a cheek and during the race and get words of inspiration from someone on our team. It's amazing! I will continue to run with GP2C as long as I can run, and until these girls can run along side us.

What would you tell other people that are thinking about joining Team GP2C?

Do it! Do it yesterday! Stop hesitating! These are amazing families you are joining in an amazing fight against a horrible disease!

Share a few lines of your favorite running song at the moment!

I actually don't always run with music. In a race, I hardly ever have music. It's a time for me to escape everything, and sometimes just listening to my feet pounding the pavement is all I need.

What would be a perfect afternoon for you?

Honestly? It would be spent outside, running. I told you I enjoy it! I'd be exploring new trails, stopping every 20 feet to take a photo for my Instagram, so I can share the beauty I get to see with you all!

Share one quote or saying that inspires you to keep going.

"Light can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light." Album Dumbledore- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Yeah, might be nerdy that my favorite quote is from Harry Potter, but that's the generation I grew up in! I love this quote because of its simplicity, and it relates to my Rett Syndrome journey. Yes, it's a horrible disorder that takes away so much from our girls, but when we see their smile it lights up the entire world.

Thank you so much Kristen for all you do to raise awareness and research funds to battle Rett Syndrome. Your energy is contagious and keeps us all on our toes!