Kelley Evening MBA graduate Chrissy Vasquez will be among the Marion County torchbearers for the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay. The relay honors Hoosiers who have demonstrated exceptional public service, achievement, acts of heroism, and/or volunteer service. Chrissy embodies all of these characteristics as a loyal Kelley alumna and as Executive Director of the Indianapolis Chapter of Back on My Feet, a national not-for-profit organization that combats homelessness through the power of running, community support, and essential employment and housing resources.
We talked with Chrissy before the torch arrives in Marion County.
Kelley Indy: This is quite an honor. What does it mean to you to be one of the Hoosiers chosen to be a torchbearer for Marion County?
Chrissy Vasquez: I’m incredibly honored to be representing Marion County in the Bicentennial Torch Relay! I was completely shocked when I received the notification letter. I’m so excited that I can represent Back on My Feet and all of our members by carrying the torch. Everyone has a unique story and is working to achieve their goals, so this is a great way to honor our members and volunteers and their journeys.
Do you have a message for those watching you run by? What do you hope they know about you?
Don’t be afraid to go after your goals. My journey has had crazy twists and turns and has included amazing opportunities like the torch relay, and it all started with one step. You never know what you can achieve if you try. In every success and failure, I’ve learned something that has propelled me forward. You never know who you’ll inspire along the way.
You just finished a 200-mile relay for Back on My Feet. Tell us more about why this organization is so important to you.
Yes, I did a RAGNAR Relay with 11 Back on My Feet volunteers. We ran about 208 miles from Cumberland, Maryland to Washington, D.C., and we raised more than $18,500 for the Back on My Feet Indianapolis Chapter. It was so much fun; I never knew cramming into a van, with no sleep, and running in the middle of the night could be a good time!
Back on My Feet is an incredible organization, and I’ve met so many wonderful people who I now call friends. I know how transformational running is, so I can relate to our members who are coming out in the mornings at 5:45 AM. Running builds confidence, self-esteem, and discipline, which is a great foundation for our members as they move toward self-sufficiency by finding housing and employment. Back on My Feet works with our members to provide jobs skills training so they’re equipped to get back into employment as well as connecting them to employment opportunities through our local and national employment partners which nationally include Marriott International and White Lodging as well as local organizations such as BrightView and FedEx. We also provide financial literacy so they know how to manage their money as well as financial aid to support with housing. In addition to all of that, and what makes us unique in this space, is the community of supporters, volunteers, and staff who lift them up and encourage them along the way. It’s really life changing, and I’m honored to be part of it!
Do you know who nominated you? How do you feel that someone took time to recognize you like this?
Yes, a Back on My Feet volunteer named Suzi nominated me without my knowing. It was a complete surprise when I was notified. I really appreciate Suzi taking the time, and I’m so grateful that she did. When I asked her about it, here’s what she had to say:
“You are the first person I met at Back on My Feet, and I loved your enthusiasm and friendliness. You helped answer many questions I’ve had. But above all, here is the quote that made me think of you FIRST! ‘ 🌹Hoosiers selected as torchbearers embody the Indiana traditions of service, civic pride, community involvement and volunteerism,’ said Lt. Governor Holcomb. ‘As we reflect on Indiana’s first two hundred years, it is only fitting that we celebrate Hoosiers who serve as inspirations in their communities. 🌹’ That’s it in a nutshell.”
Anything else you want to add?
I’m also proud to be representing Kelley Indianapolis as I carry the torch. My Kelley MBA prepared me to be the executive director of the Indianapolis Chapter, so I’m grateful for my experiences that have shaped me.