By: Kim Saxton
If you’ve ever met Chrissy Vasquez, you know why she’s a great alum to get to know. But for those who don’t, let me tell you how she’s turned her moment into momentum. The first time I met Chrissy was in the Effective Brand Positioning course I taught back in 2006. Chrissy’s vibrant personality, clear passion for marketing and creative approach to solving marketing problems made her a standout contributor to class discussions. The key deliverable for this course is to develop a new snack brand aimed at college students. Her team came up with Go Go Gorilla granola, a portable granola and fruit snack that comes in a sleeve. It was a really fun idea.
After graduation, she moved from the national headquarters of Alpha Kappa Psi (AKPsi) to the Indiana State Museum. At the Indiana State Museum, she was the Director of Membership and Corporate Sponsorships. We got reacquainted after she successfully experimented with improving membership sales through a Groupon — one of the first non-profits to experiment with Groupon. But that was really her day job.
You see, Chrissy has a big heart. In addition to working full-time, she has also served on AKPsi Board of Directors and Judiciary Committee, was a founding member of the Kelley Evening MBA Women’s Advisory Board, delivered meals for Meals on Wheels, and has volunteers at so many events that it’s really hard to keep track of everything she does. But her real passion has been volunteering for Back on My Feet (BoMF) Indianapolis. Let me tell you what this great organization does; it uses running to help the homeless population build self-esteem, confidence and discipline as a vehicle to establishing self-sufficiency through obtaining housing and employment.
One challenge that people who are homeless have is working through the steps to become self-sufficient. Yes, it takes getting help from others to get out of homelessness. But it also takes having the personal discipline to work through the steps. You have to make the effort to get training, to seek new directions, to find resources you need and to stay committed to the path in front of you. Running, from one mile to a full marathon, also takes discipline. It gets tough and you have to keep going. It hurts sometimes, but you have to stick with it. As the BoMF website says:
“Running teaches us: to take things one step at a time; that you can’t cheat life — you have to run miles one through nine to get to 10; when facing an uphill challenge we can persevere or take the easy way and turn around. The lesson we love the most is that if we keep moving forward, we arrive some place different, we arrive stronger and often as better versions of ourselves.”
BoMF runs three mornings a week at 5:45 a.m. in downtown Indy, year-round. Many weekends, they also participate in races. As members meet running milestones, they gain access to more resources and services including financial literacy, job training, interview training and even jobs with local job partners such as the JW Marriott. Well, Chrissy was an awesome volunteer for several years. This led her to triathlon training. After a couple years of sprint triathlons, Chrissy took the ultimate challenge last year — Ironman Arizona where her goal was to raise $10,000 for BoMF. Of course Chrissy blew that goal away by raising $16,500.
But the best news — last fall BoMF Indianapolis needed a new Executive Director. Chrissy took the plunge, applied for the job and got it. Trust me, I was thrilled to be a reference for her. Now, she’s raising the bar again. They have got all kinds of new events you can participate in to help them: Blue Mile Summer Brew Mile (run 1 mile and get a beer), a golf scramble hosted by White Lodging, a Marathon Relay in White River State Park on Oct. 4, and hand out water to racers at water stations on behalf of BoMF at the Eagle Creek Marathon on Aug. 2, and the Monumental Marathon on Nov. 1. These races donate bibs to members in exchange for water station volunteers.
So throw on some shoes and run with them. Don’t like to run? You can help by being on a planning committee for their annual Birthday Bash Breakfast or Marathon Relay.