Runners and activists Alison Desir and Lauren Fleshman have partnered with the Black Voters Matter Fund to raise more than $200,000 through their Womxn Run The Vote Relay.
Both Desir and Fleshman have deep roots in the running community and work as athlete advisors for Oiselle, a Seattle-based women’s running apparel company. Last year, Oiselle’s head of corporate development, Sarah Lesko, proposed the idea of a relay to the duo. Inspired by the 1977 Torch Relay that symbolized the strides women had made toward equal rights, the duo spearheaded the Oiselle assisted effort.
Beginning on September 21, the Womxn Run The Vote Relay challenges teams of 15-20 people to move along the 680-mile route from Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park in Atlanta to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Throughout their journey, participants are encouraged to read about the 40 virtual stops. Runners can learn about sites such as the Springfield Baptist Church, which served as the headquarters for nonviolent civil rights protests in the 1960's.
The Oiselle sponsored campaign is run in conjunction with Desir's nonprofit, Run 4 All Women. Together, the two groups are working to make sure that all parties feel included in the event regardless of their physical capabilities. Along the route, participants can engage in activities such as cooking and yard work that will count as mileage.
“We wanted to make sure that folks with disabilities could participate, people who were busy moms, people who didn’t see movement as their form of expression," Desir said.
"We wanted to make sure that everybody could feel included, because it really is our collective power that is moving this forward that will make change in November and beyond."
With 10,000 participants, the Womxn Run The Vote Relay is the largest relay of its kind in the United States and will continue through September 27.
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