Women in our community inspiring others

These women enrich the lives of others through their unique passions and efforts and encourage people to do the same. We sat down with them to find out a little bit about what inspires them and keeps them going. 

Pastor Cheryl Bell

What inspires you? 

Love in action. When love is shown by the way that we treat each other,  by the way that we serve God, and by the way we treat ourselves. 

What women do you look up to in your own life and why?

I have always looked up to and been inspired by “Church Ladies,” those women in churches who extended love to me. This is so important to me because I grew up in a single parent family with my father. It was as though God would always provide women in my life that mentored me and loved me. It started with Aunt Gwen, whose family opened up their home to us. She set the example of a mother’s love that opened me up to receive love from others. 

Do you have any advice for young women out there wanting to serve and get involved in their community?

Follow your passion. Pursue your goals, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.

What lessons have you learned in life that you would have liked to tell the “younger you” from years ago? 

1. Don’t be afraid to speak up and to express yourself.

2. God loves you for who you are.

3. Education is the right path to take.

4. Trust your gut–that is God.

5. Save your money.

 

Ann Nelson

Marathon runner–age 83

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

To begin with, as a child I was a bookworm and usually the shortest one in my class. What got into me at age 50 to become a jock? To enjoy the challenge and effort of running and bicycling? I give most of the credit to my family–my late husband, Stan, and our three sons and their families.  I’ve had the good fortune to run at least one marathon with each of my sons, and when Stan retired, the two of us cycled self-contained across the U.S. We dipped our wheels in Puget Sound in Seattle. Sixty-six days and 3,724 miles later we dipped them in the Atlantic Ocean near Bar Harbor, Maine. 

Tell about some of the races you have participated in.

Although I’ve done several triathlons and duathlons, marathons were my focus. I ran 20 of them until I turned 77 and then downsized to half-marathons. Marathons can take one on adventures around the world–April in Paris, the white marble Olympic stadium in Athens, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the colorful leis in Honolulu, and Boston. 

What inspires you to compete?

 A combination of factors inspires me to compete. First, it’s the simplicity of running–a pair of shoes, a fresh morning and the goal of doing my best at something I enjoy.  I am many times the only woman in the 80+ age group, and my satisfaction comes from heeding Nike’s famous slogan, “Just Do It!”  My husband died of cancer, and every August I travel to Seattle to bicycle the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center’s “Obliteride” to raise funds to obliterate cancer. 

What women do you look up to in your own life and why?

There are so many inspiring women–among them are my three sisters who are all physically active. One is an artist, one a pillar of her community and one a published poet. I admire Heather Lee, Australia’s 92-year-old fastest woman, who feels that age is no barrier to anything. I deeply admire my running friend who has MS but never mentions it and keeps on running.

Do you have any words of wisdom for the next generation of women?

Fortunate is the person who has a passion. However, a passion can be developed with some nurturing. Choose a healthy diet and lots of exercise. Enjoy the beautiful sunrises. I am sure you, too, will find that “running will add years to your life and life to your years.”