When Jean Andersson-Swayze of Charlotte came back from the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., this past January, she was fired up. “I marched in D.C. with my 11-year-old daughter, and when we got home I had so much energy and fire in my belly I wanted to keep that feeling going, but I wasn’t sure how,” she said. “I just knew I had to do something.”
Andersson-Swayze approached the women in her 6 a.m. boot camp class that meets twice a week in the Charlotte elementary school gym. “When I proposed the idea of organizing a 5K race that captured the spirit of the Women’s March, they were all in.” Andersson-Swayze, a doctor with a practice in Middlebury and the mother of three children under the age of 11, cannot hide the excitement in her voice. “Twelve of us met in my living room in February to think about how we could make this happen, and between the skill set of our group, and with the invaluable help of a professional race outfit called Zombie Run who agreed to donate their services, it all came together. The icing on the cake was when we realized the best available day was the Sunday of Mother’s Day—that absolutely sealed it!”
The race takes place on Sunday, May 14, at 9:00 a.m., beginning at Battery Park in Burlington and following the bike path. The race is noncompetitive and will not be timed. A one-mile walking route is also available. “This is about carrying on the spirit of the Women’s March,” says Andersson-Swayze, “and is open to all. It’s a chance to wear our pink hats again and carry our posters and signs. Most of all, this is not for women only. We want everyone who loves and respects women to participate!”
To register for the race, go to Persist5K. Skida, the Vermont-based, women-owned hat company, is creating a special pink headband with the Persist5K logo that will be given to the first 500 registrants (see website for details). Registration is $35 per person (12 and under is $10) until May 1 when the cost will increase to $40. Registration is also open at the day of the race but the cost increases to $45.
Proceeds from the event will go to the Vermont Women’s Fund, an organization that supports women and girls throughout the state of Vermont. Its director, Meg Smith, is also a member of the Charlotte boot camp class. “The Vermont Women’s Fund has been championing the rights of women for over 20 years and was founded in the same spirit as this event.” Smith explains, “At that time, a group of women got together because they felt that not enough was being done to help women and girls in Vermont. They mobilized women throughout Vermont by establishing a fund dedicated solely to support women’s causes.” For more information, see Vermont Women’s Fund.