top of page

Finding Home: Cheryl's Journey with the Starting Line Scholarship

Cheryl is logical, measured and calm. Her voice is steady and comforting, making it clear that when she speaks, she has thought intentionally about what she has to say. It is easy to understand that she had spent 8 years at Grand Valley State University studying math with an intent to teach while working part time at UPS, to support her family, husband and two sons for just over 30 years.

Life is a Journey Up a Spiral Staircase:

Her journey to the Starting Line Scholarship is complex, dealing with blackouts, suffering from depression and anxiety which started at an early age, to abuse that left her in a place where trust came less and less easily. She traversed the varied disappointments of setting and reaching her goals that then would have to be put on hold. Understanding that her day job, not her dream, was the thing that provided stability when it came to supporting a family. The path of her life felt out of her control.

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Cheryl needed multiple complex surgeries to her kidney and to reconstruct one of her feet. Both of which lead to a long timeline for recovery. The intensity of the isolation that the pandemic naturally created added to her feeling stifled and overwhelmed.

Miracles Happen Every Day:

This year, with prior knowledge of Still I Run and their mission, she answered a call to join in on one of its programs. What she did not realize was that she had actually signed up for the Starting Line Scholarship with Still I Run and the Well Being. There was an uncertainty of what to expect once she’d realized what she’d actually signed up for.

Already, even early in the scholarship, the tenets of the therapy and activity are helping to push her forward. She experiences a noticeable shift in her mood from the moment she starts an activity to the moment she finishes it. The premise behind the program, which gets people running/moving for mental health works; specifically, it works for her in a way that truly helps her.

Though there is an ideology of movement and of therapy happening throughout this scholarship, one of the major benefits here is undocumented on any of the handbooks, training plans or agendas.

“I just have a smile on my face when I think of this group. I don’t know how else to say it.” As Cheryl describes the benefits of this scholarship, from her point of view it is the group that she lingers on the most. “I’ve found my home, my tribe.” Her body posture picks up and she smiles as she speaks. She no longer has to hide.

Thankful for my Tribe:

The community of people that she can be herself around without thinking or over thinking about all the things is what led her to join it. And she’s not alone. In her conversations with group members, she mentioned a prevailing theme. Everyone is in a different spot but they are looking to make new connections. This builds a kind of accountability for their shared goals. “I don’t want to fail [at this], because of them…I don’t want to let them down.”

Cheryl also credits the group for inspiring new ideas and goals within her own life. In particular, she is looking to help other women with similar journeys get back on their feet.

This is clearly a community that Cheryl values and, even from the start of the scholarship, she feels like she will remain close with far after the 5K LMCU Bridge Run in September.

“I’d been praying for something like this,” Cheryl said. “This was an answered prayer.”

If you or someone you know would benefit from the Starting Line Scholarship, we invite you to check it out at our website here! Applications are selected on a rolling basis!


By Jason Holton

bottom of page