Anne Elise Creamer is set to graduate soon with her Ph.D. from the University of Florida’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. A marathon runner, Creamer will be taking part in her fourth Boston Marathon when the annual event takes place Monday.
She’ll be doing the race for the PACE Center for Girls Alachua, a nonprofit that provides education and counseling for young women and advocates for them. For every $10 donated, she will wear a ribbon in her hair with the donor’s name or a motivating phrase.
Creamer was inspired by 10-year-old runner Tommie Bost, who has raised more than $16,000 to go toward a new PACE clinic.
Creamer is one of five other runners from the Florida Track Club who will be running in the Boston Marathon this year.
WUFT News talked with Creamer in person this week to find out about her inspiration behind turning running into fundraising.
WUFT: What inspired you to start fundraising for PACE?
Creamer: I met Tommie Bost and her parents through running in Gainesville. I was drawn to her dedication to running and her dedication to achieving something greater than herself.
I went to a luncheon acknowledging some of the work Tommie had done, and I got to learn more about exactly what PACE does. PACE is a center where they take girls who have a traumatic past and are in an at-risk situation and they give them a bright future. They give them exposure to counseling, mentoring, education.
You said you’re wearing ribbon in your hair to represent the fundraising you’ve done. What do the ribbons mean, and what are your goals for the fundraiser?
Hopefully through fundraising, they will add a center for a clinic to help with the health of these girls, which they may not receive otherwise.
I wanted to do something that would really motivate me to finish. Working with Tommie and her family and the whole Gainesville community, I thought of using my running in the Boston Marathon as a really cool outlet to raise funds and awareness.
A more tangible thank you to sponsors is to wear the ribbons in my hair. Not only is it for the donor or sponsor, but it’s also for me.
When I see that ribbon, I can remember how the Gainesville community has supported my running through PACE and my work through PACE. This will be a really cool reminder for what PACE is doing for girls, what Tommie is doing for PACE and all the work that the whole Gainesville community is doing to not only support me, but to support PACE and support Tommie’s initiative to build that clinic.
It’s definitely a reminder to help me finish the race and help PACE. The ribbons are a tangible way to say thank you to PACE, say thank you to all the work the community continues doing.
Have you engaged in community service in the past? How do you hope to be engaged with PACE in the future?
I received the Community Service and Leadership Award during undergrad at Cornell in the College of Agriculture. It’s definitely a calling of mine to do some service and leadership.
I never got involved with the center for at-risk girls ’til now. I did a little fundraiser for PACE by having a group run that ended at a brewery for a social, and all of the proceeds benefitted PACE. That was my first step towards doing a fundraiser for PACE, and all that money went to Tommie’s initiative to build a clinic.
I grew up in a really sheltered environment and didn’t know that some of the problems these girls face even existed. It was kind of mind-blowing seeing what young girls are exposed to, even in Gainesville and in America. I can put a small little bit of my time and energy to raise awareness, and maybe others will be inspired like I am to raise some funds.
You participated in the Boston Marathon three times. What makes you keep coming back?
The first time I ran the Boston Marathon was [in] 2013, which was the year of the bombing, so that motivated me to continue to run it every year since. Unfortunately, I did not run it last year because my peak marathon was the Jacksonville Marathon, which was fun and I ended up winning overall female at 2:57.
I ran in 2013, 2014, 2015 and now 2017. The running isn’t the hard part of this race; I want to do something bigger than myself this year.
What advice would you give to the girls of PACE?
Take advantage of your mentors and of the resources that PACE is giving you.
Don’t limit yourself to your environment. Seek greater goals than yourself. Look beyond the self and to the future. See that the resource PACE is giving is for your benefit, and take advantage of those resources in a positive way.
More than anything, I am amazed by what the girls at PACE are able to accomplish. I think they have more to teach me than I have to teach them.
Is there any advice that you would give to other runners?
My advice for runners is to take it slow and enjoy the process of training. A lot of the books out there are geared towards super quick ways to achieve.
Enjoy the process [and] not just the achievement of running that [personal-record] marathon or that 5K.
I think that goes towards life, too: Enjoy the process.
Correction: This article originally referred to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences as the College of Agriculture.