Natalie's Everyday Heroes: Milwaukee runner Tenia Fisher makes sport more inclusive

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Staying fit and active has been a challenge for people of all ages during the pandemic, but a Milwaukee running star is working to make her sport accessible for kids and adults alike. She’s also working to make it more inclusive for everyone.

“Beautiful day for a run,” Tenia Fisher says into her phone’s camera while standing in the grass at Atwater Park.

Fisher’s Tuesday runs look a little different these days. She’s starting this one on Instagram live with her running group, F.E.A.R. MKE.

“So, F.E.A.R. stands for ‘forget everything and run,’ and it was created because there are not a lot of people of color who are in running,” Fisher explained.

In this age of social distancing, the group’s announcements are done on social media.

“Make sure you answer that question, so we can get a vibe of how that's going,” she tells her members.

Then it’s on to the warm-up, led by a team captain, and Fisher heads out to run on her own. The online commraderie keeps everyone going.

“The numbers have just grown to have all types of colors, and sizes and levels of running,” she said of the group.

And that’s her goal—to introduce running to more people of color.

“We are very welcoming, all you have to do is show up,” Fisher said. “Running is really cheap. All you need is a decent pair of shoes.”

Fisher is the perfect ambassador for her sport.

“I started when I was 12 years old. My first ‘race’ was around my middle school block,” she said. “I won that and I was hooked!”

She was a track and cross country star at Rufus King High School in Milwaukee, running the 400 and 800 meter races. The team also won the state championship her senior year. She went on to become a hall of famer is UW-Milwaukee.

“I just really loved running and now I enjoy bringing that joy to other people and seeing them accomplish their goals through running,” she said.

F.E.A.R. attracts young professionals, but Fisher also started working with younger runners a little over a year ago with the organization, Girls on the Run.

“It sounded like something that I needed to be a part of as a young girl, being of color and running and not seeing a lot of people who looked like me,” Fisher remembered.

She’s a coach for Girls on the Run at Greater Holy Temple Christian Academy, where she’s also a teacher. Fisher also serves as a Girls on the Run board member. Executive Director Tina Jones said it all clicked right away.

“She was excited about spreading the word about Girls on the Run to her own school community, to the girls that were in her school,” Jones said.

Girls on the Run teaches empowerment to girls in 3rd-8th grades through running.

“It's so important to understand everybody's uniqueness and value their difference,” Jones said.

Jones also said Fisher immediately started new conversations about inclusivity.

“How can we do better? So, I really think of Tenia as one of my heroes, as one of the Girls on the Run heroes,” she said.

Fisher also had the chance to take her message beyond Milwaukee.

“She was also invited to speak to our national organization and spoke to over 400 council directors, and boards of directors with Girls on the Run across the nation,” Jones said.

The girls in the program are encouraged to take part in the Power Up program, with activities and videos to keep them moving this summer.

The curriculum is fantastic,” Jones said. “They'll have a coach who will talk through the lessons with them. They also get a really cute t-shirt.”

Fisher is showing them all how it’s done, as a running role model for all ages.

“We've had people show up who literally couldn't run a mile who now are running half marathons, marathons, and 5Ks,” she said with a smile.

For more information on Girls on the Run and F.E.A.R. MKE, just visit their websites:

And, if you’d like to nominate someone for Natalie’s Everyday Heroes, just send Natalie an email at nshepherd@cbs58.com.

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