Run With It

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

By: Afia Padonu, CCR Timonium Team Member & Founder of Soles for Souls

When I reflect on milestones, I often liken it to standing at the starting line of a race; the rush of emotions as I dash towards the finish line. Yet, I understand that the culmination of each race mirrors the journey we navigate in life—full of challenges we meet head-on, just as we do in running, placing one foot in front of the other. My name is Afia Padonu, and I’m the founder of Soles for Souls, a Baltimore-based community organization primarily supporting women who have experienced pregnancy loss due to miscarriage. We embrace sound, movement, and collaboration as pillars of healing. In July 2022, my husband Demi and I experienced the loss of our son, Kwame, due to a temporary illness I faced, leading to an emergency surgery and miscarriage. Soles for Souls defines miscarriage as “an unsuccessful outcome of something planned or pregnancy loss before 20 weeks.” Through my journey of recovery and self-discovery, I found solace within our community, utilizing these pillars of healing.

As a former basketball player, running was initially introduced to me as a form of punishment. However, in 2017, I made the conscious decision to reclaim my passion and purpose for running. Amidst navigating mental health challenges, I realized the necessity of an outlet with minimal barriers. I would wake up, get dressed, lace up my shoes, and hit the pavement, allowing my feet to guide me through the day, often incorporating yoga sessions. My goal wasn’t based on pace or time but on movement and release. Returning to my roots in Silver Spring, Maryland, allowed me to reconnect with places that held different memories and reclaim them for myself.

Running has taught me that, much like life, despite meticulous planning, training, and preparation, the journey remains unpredictable. My motto, “run with it,” encompasses embracing every aspect of the journey—whatever “it” may be—whether grief, mental health challenges, joy or happiness.

Following the loss of our son, I was determined to dedicate a run to him, to prove to myself that I could overcome adversity. Despite early doubts in my grief, I committed to training for the Baltimore Running Festival’s 5K race in October, rallying friends and family to join our team, “4K Runners,” in honor of Kwame. Crossing that finish line marked not only a personal achievement but also a symbol of strength and power amidst grief. As we shared our story in October during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, the overwhelming response underscored the necessity of Soles for Souls. 

Utilizing sound, movement, and community, Soles for Souls facilitates healing through storytelling, therapy, and various activities such as sound bath healing and music. Studies validate the therapeutic benefits of movement in grief, postpartum care, and mental health management. We believe everyone has someone in their circle affected by pregnancy loss, thus our efforts extend from families to healthcare professionals, offering services ranging from recovery registries to social events and referrals.

Join the Soles for Souls walk and run team at the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5K or celebrate with us at the 1.5-mile mark with our cheer team. Together, let’s harmonize healing through every step of the journey.

Run With It,

Afia Padonu

Date

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Live.Give.Run. Blog

We hope that you find this blog to be a source of training tips, inspiration and community. Our goal is to create a place online for every runner to find the motivation they need to hit the pavement. If you’d like to be a guest contributor, please email us at lauren@charmcityrun.com.


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