#JustAnOutdoorGal: Erin Fitzgerald

Welcome to our December #JustAnOutdoorGal! We can’t believe the new year is coming up – we’re so excited to say farewell to 2016 with a conversation with Erin Fitzgerald. By combining public work and her love for running and the outdoors, Erin has been able to manifest her passions in a unique way.

She currently serves as the president of Betties360, an organization that strives to empower young girls through action sports, life education, and outdoor adventure. In addition, she runs two initiatives that enable athletes to make small contributions towards greater change. Of course, all of this is on top of her own trail running, race schedule, and daily life!

Erin inherited her love of running from her father. He was a marathon runner, and Erin received her sturdy distance legs and passion for the sport from him. While she ran casually for fun and fitness during undergrad, it was after she graduated and moved to New York City that she started participating in marathons.

During her time in NYC, she was fortunate enough to work with runners with disabilities. Through Achilles Track Club, Erin had the opportunity to run and regularly workout with three runners; two of these athletes were blind. This was the first of many instances when Erin would find a way to give back to communities and athletes through the sport she loved.

After moving from NYC to her hometown of Portland, Erin began to run trails and never looked back! Trail running offers Erin an opportunity to reflect and be wholly herself in a way that nothing else can. Running lifts her spirits and makes her more confident in herself. A couple of years ago, she decided to start a blog {Adventures in Thumbholes} to detail her adventures. She also combined her desire to be a philanthropist with her blog, and Small Change was born.

Small Change encourages runners to commit to donation for an organization that is significant either to them, or to the race itself. They then submit their stories to Erin, and she features them on her blog. The initiative enables runners to give back to communities, and also brings awareness to lesser-known non-profits with small audiences yet big hearts. {If you’re interested in donating during your next race or event, you can learn more here!}

Erin also started another initiative called “Make a Pact, Pack it Out,” which aims to keep our well-used trails clean! She encourages people to Instagram pictures of trash they find and pick up on the trails. If you want to participate, use the hashtag #makeapactpackitout.

In aggregate small changes and contributions can have a big impact.  Small Change and Make a Pact! are great ways for athletes to give back to the resources and communities that enrich our lives every day. Please take a sec to check out the above links and support Erin in her endeavors!

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