For the third year in a row, Dress for Success is an official charity partner of the TCS New York City Marathon 2017. We have secured an array of influential women (and men) on Team DFS to run to empower women to reach economic independence and break the cycle of poverty. Learn what inspires a few of our runners to take on the task of running 26.2 miles (42.195 km) through the five boroughs of New York City for charity.
Jennifer Serrano has been running in marathons, half marathons, 10K and 5K races since 2011, here’s her story:
DFS: Why did you choose to run for Dress for Success? How did you come to know about the organization and what we do?
JS: Once I decided I wanted to raise money for a charity I began looking at the many marathon partner charities and was overwhelmed by the amount of choices! I ultimately decided I wanted to run in support of women and Dress for Success was a natural choice from that point. Dress for Success has an outstanding reputation! I was familiar with the organization prior to seeing it listed on the NYC Marathon website however, I was not aware that DFS provided more than just suiting for women. When I read the mission statement I knew this was an organization I wanted to dedicate my efforts to.
DFS: What has been the most surprising thing you have learned about yourself since becoming a runner?
JS: There are no limits to what I can do. I started this journey overweight, about 40 lbs. heavier than I am now. I wasn’t interested in losing weight or exercising. My very first race was in 2011. It was a 5K that took me almost an hour to complete (to put that in perspective, my best 5K time to date is 26:53). I remember thinking that I had no idea how people ran continuously without walking but I stuck with it, mostly because of positive peer pressure from my family. After all, I didn’t want to be left out of post-race family breakfasts! Then came the small wins a little at a time. Faster 5Ks, running a race without stopping, losing weight, endurance to run longer distances, my first half marathon, losing even more weight, a half marathon PR (personal record), a 25K, a 30K, my first marathon, a couple of sprint triathlons, a marathon PR and most recently a sub-2 hour half marathon! Every time I thought I couldn’t do better or do more, I did. While it was instilled in me from a young age that I could accomplish any goal I set my mind to, through my running journey I am now able prove to that to myself again and again.
DFS: What has been your proudest moment along your running journey?
JS: In 2015 I ran my first marathon. In the last .2 miles of the marathon as I ran towards the finish line, I burst into tears. Complete strangers were high-fiving me, yelling, “Go Jennifer!” and were genuinely happy for me. I remember not being able to process the reality of the fact that I had trained and pushed my body to endure running 26.2 miles, a 4 hour and 50 minute feat. What I felt after I crossed the finish line changed my life forever. I was now part of a very small percentage of Americans who have completed a marathon. I realized in that moment that no matter how impossible the goal may seem, I can make it happen. It may not always be easy but it’s possible if you work hard enough. It was one of the proudest moments not only in my running journey but in my life.
DFS: How do you connect to the work that Dress for Success is doing to empower women worldwide?
JS: I connect deeply with the mission statement of Dress for Success. I have been very blessed in life to have an incredible support system that began at home with my parents and sister. From a young age, my family provided me with the tools to be able to thrive in work and life. My father always taught my sister and I that there are no limits to what we could accomplish simply because we are women. He has always been there to advise us when we need him. My mother taught us to be kind, strong women and does an incredible job, to this day, of nurturing us. My parents have always empowered us to steer own course but we always know that if things don’t go the way we planned they will always be there to love, help and support us. They’ve made a pretty great team for the last 41 years! Through the years, my support system has expanded to include some really amazing friends, colleagues and mentors who support me in such a way that allows me to achieve my goals. My wish for every woman in the world is to have the support system and tools that I have had that have allowed me to achieve goals in both my personal and professional life. I know I won’t ever be able to reach every woman in the world but I also know that my fundraising efforts will help change the lives of several women through Dress for Success and that’s a great place to start!
DFS: What does success mean to you
JS: Success to me means accomplishing your goals, working hard to make your dreams into reality and most importantly- having people in your life to share it all with.
DFS: What would you like to say to your colleagues, friends, and loved ones who have supported you and donated to your fundraiser thus far?
JS: To my family, friends and colleagues who have supported me and donated to my fundraiser- THANK YOU! The amount of gratitude in my heart for you all is endless. You are all helping me to achieve a life goal and this wouldn’t be possible without you. I will think of each and every one of you as I make my way through the boroughs on November 5! I’d like to give an extra special thank you to my parents, Elijio and Mary, my sister, Erica, and my boyfriend, Edgar, who will be there on race day to chase me around the city!
DFS: How do you hope completing the 2017 NYC Marathon for Dress for Success, will inspire your community and the women around you?
JS: I hope completing the 2017 NYC Marathon for Dress for Success inspires others in my community to get involved and give back. By doing so, you are making an investment for the betterment of our community and for society. It’s a win-win situation! I hope I inspire women to pursue their dreams and realize there is truly no limit to what you can accomplish! Get it girls!
DFS: What is the first thing you’re going to do after the race is over?
JS: Probably cry (I’ve gotten much more emotional as I age!), search for my family in Central Park, then cry some more when I find them! I think about that moment a lot while I train and I can’t wait for it to become a reality on race day! GO TEAM DFS!
Support Jennifer and her race to the finish line on November 5th in NYC! Donate now at CrowdRise.com/dress-for-success-2017.