Let me introduce you to the woman behind Stroller Warriors: Stephanie Geraghty! There’s a good chance you already know her as she grew up near Avoca and has returned home to raise her family with her husband, Brian, which I had the privilege of writing about last week! But maybe you had no idea what all she accomplished while she was on the road with Brian! She might not tell you, but I will!
As Steph pointed out, the military offers a lot of challenges. Sure, they get to travel and see the world and are blessed to have friends all over the world, but moving and starting over time and again is hard, especially with children, which is where this all started…
In 2009, Steph and Brian had just moved their family to North Carolina. Steph was a mom of a toddler with a husband being deployed so she knew she needed a friend network. It occurred to her that she needed to find other moms to run with and it would be two-fold because their kids could play together, too. She looked for a club, but there wasn’t one. So what did she do? She decided to start her own! The name came with Stroller representing they were family-friendly and Warriors because their spouses were Warriors, as were they for manning the home-front! With that, she made a plan and advertised on local swap sites and got a couple of other military wives involved. The first workout was a cold day in January with 3 participants, but it expanded from there. Word-of-mouth spread and the club grew to 15 to 20 members attending weekly meet-ups.
Members asked for more and Steph made it happen. They added more “workout days, community outreach events, couch to 5K training, even a book club. The club thrived and grew exponentially in the years to follow.” No doubt about that! As members moved away, they asked to start more chapters and thanks to Steph (and others she humbly gave credit to), a headquarters was set up and now there are 47 chapters and thousands of members. This marks the 10 year anniversary of the organization and it is still run completely by volunteers and free to its members. If you want to learn more, check it out here!
What makes this organization so important? Steph said it best: “Our members unite together to achieve goals and serve others, all while enduring deployments, moves, births, deaths, and more. The challenges of military life are always more manageable with Stroller Warriors at your side! I know that fact firsthand, as our middle son Cole was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder called Spinal Muscular Atrophy at age 2. Brian was deployed to Afghanistan and it was a very difficult time for us to accept his diagnosis and then figure out the treatment plan going forward and our "new normal." The Stroller Warriors helped me through this difficult time, I truly could not have done it without them.”
Steph has retired as CEO and said that she believed it should be run by an active duty spouse to fully envelope the needs and changes necessary for the program. Steph also was ready to come home and raise her family complete with a forever-home on her grandparents’ land (they purchased) that will be wheelchair accessible for their son and offers them land to do some hobby farming with goats, vegetables, and way too many cats! Lol. I also noted that her list of volunteer jobs is quite a lengthy one, as well as subbing and working at the Avoca Flower Shop! She certainly doesn’t let the grass grow under her!
With everywhere they’ve been and all they’ve been through, Stephanie says there’s no place like home. Amen!
Steph, we are so glad you came home to Pott. Co!