Name/Nickname: Stella Thai
City: St. Joseph, MI
Number of Marathons Run: This will be my first!
How many years have you been a SoleMate: 1—2022 is my first year as a SoleMate!
Why do you support Girls on the Run-Chicago?
I was first introduced to GOTRC by my sister, Bianca, who is a member of the associate board. When I first learned about GOTR, I was immediately drawn to their mission and vision. Growing up as a minority, I often felt different from my friends and peers, but I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by an encouraging and supportive community.
As a young woman who's had to move to new towns and cities on my own, I'm recognizing the importance of having a community who embraces you for who you are and empowers you to chase your dreams. Supporting GOTRC allows me to provide other young girls with a supportive community that sees their potential and inspires them to pursue their dreams!
Why do you run?
I run for my mental and physical health. I am not a competitive runner, and racing is not something I enjoy doing. Over the years, I've found running to be my refuge, a safe space for me to just "be." When I'm running, it's just me and my feet pounding on the pavement below me, and I'm able to let go of any and all stress that's been weighing me down without the fear of judgment.
When did you start running?
I started running consistently when I was in graduate school in 2017 as a way to destress and clear my mind.
Is this your first endurance race?
YES! The Chicago Marathon was my first endurance race!
How do you stay motivated to run on tough days?
I remind myself that running is a privilege, and there are so many people out in the world tackling tougher days with so much grace. A hard run is nothing in comparison to the many other challenges out there. If lacing up my sneakers and powering through a tough run is the hardest thing I'm facing, then I should be grateful.
Has running helped you get through or overcome tough times?
Absolutely! Running has given me an outlet to let go of my frustration, anger, disappointment, and sadness. It's become cathartic for me, and there have been many times when I finish a run and am overcome with peace.
What would you tell your 10-year-old self about working toward a big goal?
It takes time, commitment, and outside support. Some days will be hard, and some days will feel like you're taking one step forward and two steps backward, but it's important to remember your "why" behind your goal. Why are you driven to reach this goal? Why is it so important to you? The journey isn't always going to be easy, but the growth you experience along the way is SO worth it, and YOU are worth it!
Do you have any fundraising tips for your fellow teammates?
Share your "why." We all have our own reasons for fundraising with GOTRC, and our supporters want to know why and what their contributions go toward. Reaching out to people individually can also increase fundraising opportunities. I've found that people often appreciate individualized messages compared to a generic social media post or email.
What is your superpower?
My superpower is being able to fall asleep anywhere at any time. On an airplane before we take off? Check. Sitting upright in a dining hall? Check. In a camping chair in the middle of a college football tailgate? Check.