MERIDIAN — Never give up!
Although the women credit their success to Brown, she says it should be attributed closer to home.
"You possess all the tools. All you need is someone to encourage and motivate you," she said.
Still, the women say they could not have done it without Brown
"Coach Felecia Brown is our Mother Hen, and we are the baby chicks preparing for the day when we will be able to fly away from the nest (self motivation)," Kim Carter said. "By having the will power, self determination and self control, we've done all we could to reach our goal of being a 'diva on the run.'"
Brewster said Brown has not only changed her life, but also the life of her 13-year-old daughter, Sara, who is also a team member.
"She is a cheerleader and even on the days she has after school cheer practice she says, 'Mama, I still want to g run with Mrs. Felecia,'" Brewster said. "Felecia has motivated her to be dedicated to her own fitness and Sara loves the results."
Muriel Sutton said she not only looks and feels healthier, but she has gained significant stamina and endurance since she started training with the group.
"I never thought that I would be able to endure 30 minutes of continuous running," Sutton said. "I am grateful to Felecia for teaching me how to run!"
"Never Give Up" has been the group's motto throughout their 12-week training. For Carter, those words have become a daily mantra.
"Some days are a struggle. I sometimes complain and don't want to run, but I have to keep reminding myself that it is for the best," she said.
"My oldest daughter often tells me that it's harder to stop and start back than it is to start and finish, meaning NEVER GIVE UP ... Now that our 12-week program is complete, I feel as if I am well on my way to living a healthier lifestyle both physically and mentally. So I would like to thank Felecia Brown – my aunt, my coach, my mentor – for her time and dedication and for believing in us and showing us how to believe in ourselves. And while becoming fit was the objective for organizing the running group, members have also received many unexpected benefits.
"I know it may seem crazy to some people getting up at 5 a.m. to run and, and I have to say that I have even surprised myself, as well as my husband," Stacy Jenkins said.
"My husband and I have been running some, but there is something about being part of this group of women that has inspired me to press through. These ladies are awesome and even though we may be different in many ways, we are all the same in desiring to achieve and push ourselves to healthier lifestyles. We have whined, we have laughed, we have prayed and we have given praise to Jesus for helping us when things got hard," Jenkins said.
Betty Wilson joked that the best part of being a Diva is "the drive to do better, push harder – and eventually outrun Felecia!"
Group organizer Gwen Blakely describes the experience as being about health, fitness and the joy of being surrounded by some of the most motivational women in Meridian.
"Felecia has really done something wonderful by bringing us all together and encouraging us to push ourselves to a greater level of fitness," Blakely said.
After competing in the 5K run, the women were honored later that evening with a semi-formal dinner at Weidmann's Restaurant. In addition to a slide presentation documenting their journeys – and successes – the evening included a grand prize giveaway (a basket that included an iPod, running paraphernalia and other items).
"They stuck with it consistently for the past 12 weeks; it has been truly rewarding to watch their growth," Brown said. "They are to be commended for what they have achieved and should be very proud of themselves."
Due to demand, Brown plans to start another running group later this summer.