Mary Wilmer grew up in Dunkirk, New York during the Depression. She chased her two brothers and rode her horse, Shillelagh. In high school, Mary went to a boarding school in Maryland, became the May Queen and captained her basketball team. She went off to Smith College and quit to marry Henry Wilmer (causing her father to have a fit).

Mary had 4 children. Mary also began to drink heavily - beginning a lifelong battle with alcohol. It was her daughter, Molly, who helped her begin the first steps of fighting the addiction with running. One block at a time. Then one mile at a time.

Molly inherited the family trait and herself fought this battle. While out on a run, Molly had a epiphany. She had to do two things. Stop drinking. And empower younger women to stop feeling that they had to be other than who they were. Molly launched "Girls on the Run, a 12-week program which empowers young girls with skills to enhance self-esteem and confidence.

Mary passed away recently. She outran alcoholism. She beat lung cancer. She lifted weights and wore Birkenstocks. She loved Molly for her twinkle in her eye, for her generosity of spirit, and for inspiring a new generation of girls to "have the self-esteem that I never had."



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Facts about Molly

  • 4-time Ironman Triathlete from UNC Chapel Hill

  • Began “Girls on the Run,” a nationwide program that inspires self-esteem in young girls aged 8-12 by teaching them skills which encourage confidence and the courage to voice opinion

"Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother." — Lin Yutang


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