More than just a 5k – Acceptance Challenge 2022

Guest Post: Heather Mulye, Ellies & Finnagians mom, GiGiFIT Kids Leader, and Board Member

I’ve been blessed with leading GiGiFIT kids for the past year. If you know me, you know the second thing I love most in this world after Ellie, and Finnegan is running and fitness. Being able to have the opportunity to have an impact on kids with fitness has been so incredibly meaningful. They’ve taught me so much in this past year. Strength, courage, perseverance, and a love of life. Once a week I get to experience the energy of genuine happiness from kids just being a part of something challenging and fun.

This past session, Sophie joined our group. She has rocked fitness with sass and smiles. There’s one moment I wish I could take from my brain and put it into a photograph for everyone to see. Sophie heard a certain fitness movement and what she’d have to do. She looked at her mom and said, “It’s hard.” I told her, “It is, but let’s just try it.” She looked me straight in the eyes, hesitated for a moment, then did the move and held it. Her face went from unsure to pure excited in a split second.

Her entire face lit up with a smile and yelled out, “Mom, I did it!” “You did it!” we both exclaimed back.

So, when I heard about the GiGiFIT Acceptance Challenge, I let everyone know who’d listen, that I was volunteering myself to be a part of it. I didn’t care what I did to help, I knew I needed to be a part of it. I wanted to create an event that captured the feelings I felt being a part of GiGiFIT kids. I wanted to allow others to experience it as well. I talked about it, a lot. A couple of weeks prior to the event Ellie out of nowhere looked at me one evening and said, “Mommy, we run GiGiFIT 5k together?” I responded, “You want to run the 5k with me?” Her face lit up, “Yes!” “Let’s do it, girl.” I knew she didn’t know how long a 5k was, but in her head, she only understood the concept of running as we did at GiGiFIT kids. I could read on Ellie’s face how excited she was about the idea of merging something all about her and my love of running. To her, it couldn’t have been a better combination. She wanted to be a part of something that was big. She knew it was because I kept having meetings about it and was helping.

The day of the event was more than I could have ever expected. I felt fortunate enough to know the behind-the-scenes but also see it from the eyes of a parent and in Ellie’s demand, be hand in hand to experience it as Ellie did. We stood at the start line for the 5k and in front of her, she saw a shirt she autographed with her name on it. She turned, smiled at me, and pointed to her name. I smiled back and said, “They’re running for you!” She said, “You ready?” …. “Let’s go bugga” We ran for a short time, not a 5k but it didn’t matter. What did matter was that she saw people supporting her, wearing a shirt that had her name on it, and having family and friends there for her.

Being a part of something bigger than she’d imagined. That, being her mom, means more than anything else. Ever.

A lot was moving and going on that day. I stepped away from everything to take it all in and to watch and observe.

I knew the impact it made on Ellie, I wanted to see what it made on other people. What I saw was pure happiness from everyone there. To see the number of people there loving, supporting, and caring for Ellie and her friends makes me cry as I write this. My biggest fear after Ellie was born was that she wouldn’t have friends. That day I stood with about 300 friends. I knew she had more friends than I could’ve ever imagined. I’ll always cherish our first GiGiFIT Acceptance challenge.


Group of people celebrating acceptnace

Click Image to see more photos from our incredible day.

Save the Date! April 29th, 2023

Thank you, Heather & everyone, who joined the MOVEment, we set a goal to raise $50,000 and we are just over $3,000 short of reaching that goal!  If you were not able to join us in person this year but are inspired to invest in more programs that are always free to our families please visit here and give.  We are so proud and thankful to have you on our team!  Heather has accepted the position of the 2023 GiGiFIT Acceptance Challenge Chair and would love to hear from anyone looking to help plan for next year’s challenge!  You can send Heather a note at to learn more.

Recent Posts


Love, always.

We are excited to welcome Beth back to the Blog! Each month in 2023, we will focus on a theme, and as I am sure...
Little boy with red hair and down syndrome smiling

Gratitude, in the Hard

Welcome back to the GiGi's Blog, Beth Craver! We are so thankful for her story telling talents and how she always brings a great insight....

Acceptance, the real Meaning.

Guest Post: Beth Craver Six years ago I was a Down syndrome rookie. I was learning the ropes from people I met through social media...

Leave a Comment