Running the Kilimanjaro Marathon for Maternal Health

A group of 26 staff members and supporters are on their way to Tanzania to improve maternal health. 

Team EMC will run the Kilimanjaro Marathon on March 1st to raise awareness and funds that will help improve access to critical maternal healthcare. 

Meet the dedicated supporters who are joining us on this journey and hear from the supporters themselves on why they’re running for this cause.


Christy Turlington Burns (founder of EMC)

Erin Thornton (executive director EMC)

Kristen Kirkland (Running Director EMC)

Clancy McCarty (Director of Production & Special Projects)


Chirsitane Lemiuex (founder Dwell Studios & executive creative director Wayfair)

Mariam Naficy (founder/Ceo Minted)

Heather Armstrong (Dooce)


(Also includes Heidi Flagg, Kim Graham-Nye, and ultramarathoners, Scott Jurek and Jenny Jurek.)

Melissa Berger

When I was 9 months pregnant my father died suddenly and that changed me. I decided I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I love being a mom to Olivia, step mom to Zach and Ethan and wife to Dan but I also need to feel like I am doing something to make a difference.

I liked pushing myself past my personal limits, knowing I was raising money to help people who really needed it. When I finished the marathon (and it took me a long time), I felt on top of the world. Now, I’m running to raise awareness for EMC because every woman should have the chance to watch her children grow up.

Josh Bonifas

I am a husband, father of two, vintage wristwatch expert, PBS’s Antiques Roadshow appraiser, Carmel California-based business owner, former collegiate athlete at Middlebury College, Ironman and Ultra-marathon finisher.I am proud to run for Every Mother Counts to show my children that their father can make a difference by running. My wife and I have been blessed with two amazing birth experiences and we feel compelled to help women who are not as fortunate. We are both inspired by the work of EMC.

Jonathan Hoffman

I’m a developer. I like helping countries realize there potential by unlocking projects that promote economic development. Currently, in South Africa I’m working on renewable energy. I married an incredible woman (Margo) and we now have a beautiful baby girl (Maeve). I’m running in Tanzania because ever since we had Maeve I’ve wanted to get involved with EMC. I first learned about Christy’s interests after a yoga class when we talked about Tanzania projects we were working on years ago. Then, I saw her Instagram post for the Kilimanjaro Half marathon and thought — “perfect!” I’m running because my wife and I have been so fortunate to have access to such splendid care and we want to support the effort to bring better maternal healthcare to more women.

Russell Kelly

I’m 41-years-old, a Louisiana native and now live in New York’s Hudson Valley with my wife Theresa and our two daughters, Rowan and Porter. I am the Brand Manager of TUDOR Watch U.S.A. Running has always been about more than athletic achievement or competition for me — more personal and meditative. My first date with my wife was on a 13-mile trail run in Chattanooga, TN and I asked her to marry me years later on that very same run. Now I have the opportunity to add even more meaning to running through Every Mother Counts. The more successful my career has become, the more I want to offset that by creating a positive role model for my daughters. There’s no better way to embrace what EMC is doing than by visiting sites where their help is needed most. Expanding my own comfort zone by running the Kilimanjaro Marathon in an unfamiliar and harsh environment punctuates the importance of supporting this great cause.

Elizabeth Lane

My husband, two daughters and I live in Westport, MA, a small coastal town on the Rhode Island border. When I became aware of Every Mother Counts and their work to support maternal health in 2013, I felt an immediate connection as I was born 3 months premature due to a hemorrhage. Running had never been my sport (I was a yoga girl) and I hadn’t run more than two miles at one time in over a decade. I was compelled by EMC’s campaign to run races symbolizing distance as a significant maternal health barrier, but didn’t think I could participate. I wasn’t a runner. In one yoga class, during a seemingly endless meditation, this “non-runner” identity shifted. With arms held high for 31 minutes, the meditation proved I had the mental grit necessary to run. The physical piece couldn’t be too far behind. I signed up to run the New York City 2014 Half Marathon with Team EMC. I became a runner that day and I’ve been running for EMC ever since! It’s an honor to run the Mt. Kilimanjaro Half Marathon with this dedicated team, each of us united by our shared commitment to bring mothers and their children safely through labor and delivery. To see EMC’s impact in Tanzania first-hand is extraordinary. I’m thankful to join EMC on this amazing adventure as we celebrate their five-year anniversary.

Patricia Herrera Lansing

I was born in Caracas, Venezuela in 1973, the daughter of Vanity Fair Contributing Editor Reinaldo Herrera and designer Carolina Herrera. I moved to NYC with my parents as a young girl. I previously worked as the fashion editor at Vanity Fair and I’m currently the Creative Consultant at Carolina Herrera New York. In addition to spending time with my family, I’ve been working with Go Project (a charity serving low- income New York City public school children by providing critical academic, social and emotional support) for the past five years. I’m also a proud supporter of Every Mother Counts. Being a lover of running for a good cause, I ran my first marathon for Team EMC in New York City in 2013. I live with my husband of ten years, Gerrit Lansing, and my three children, Gerrit, Carolina, and Magnus. My dream is to someday run the marathon with my daughter, Carolina.

Disco Meisch

I am 32-years old and originally from Germany, but I’ve lived in New York for 10 years. I am a photo producer and photographer and I have 5 children (teenagers now!) in Tanzania. I met them 4 years ago when I was on a trip with another organization and was determined to get them out of a bad situation. I now have a house in Kigoma where the children live with my best friend who is Tanzanian. We’re co-parenting and I go back and forth between NYC and Tanzania as much as I can! I run because it makes me feel like a million bucks and it’s the best way to travel your own neighborhood, city, or anywhere you land. I signed up for the Kilimanjaro Marathon last year because Tanzania/Mt Kilimanjaro is very magical for me. When I saw on Instagram that Christy was coming to Tanzania with EMC, I got in touch. It made sense to me to run the Marathon for the women of Tanzania. Meeting the team last week only made it more clear how special it is to run together and save lives!

Courtney Peterson

I grew up in a very athletic family and have loved running since a young age. Raised in Boston and Maine, I went to college in California (received my B.A. in Media Studies & Foreign Languages from Scripps College). I moved to NYC upon graduating to pursue a career at Conde Nast — working as an editor for Architectural Digest, Vogue and Teen Vogue magazines and later as a buyer for the home decor company One Kings Lane. I now run a digital branding consultancy Logic & Grace, combining my love of tech and content creation for brands in the home, fashion and start-up industries. I’m a passionate entrepreneur, design enthusiast, and women’s rights advocate. Running has always given me a sense of empowerment — it’s a way to connect with something much larger than myself. The opportunity to run with EMC has given me the gift of being able to support women (and life) around the world. March 1st is especially meaningful to me, as it also happens to be my mom’s birthday — I can’t think of a better day to run in her honor.

Vicki Reed

I’m a working mom of a 6-year-old girl living in NYC and originally from Oregon. I work in marketing communications for EDUN and have traveled to Africa and been introduced to EMC through my work there. I love NYC and have been here for 10 years. It’s always a challenge to keep my outdoor/active lifestyle from Oregon alive in the fast-paced world of NYC — but running, yoga, and getting out of the city has allowed me to keep my sanity and be inspired by the beauty of the Northeast and NYC. I run because I love the freedom and the small ways it makes me feel child-like and young. When I found out about EMC running in the Kilimanjaro marathon, it seemed to encapsulate three things that I love and are so important in my life — running, Africa and women/babies. I thought, “Wow, I’d love to do that some day”…that day became a reality. I am so looking forward to a life changing experience in Tanzania.

Amy Siegel

I’ve worked as a pediatric oncology nurse for 10 years, which makes me grateful for my health everyday and for all the amazing opportunities I get to enjoy — running, traveling, and doing work I love. I believe in community. I always root for the underdog. I’m a proud aunt 13 times over and a strong believer in the power of good friends and good music. I run because I love to be outside. I run to feel strong and healthy. I run because it makes me feel 20 years younger than I am. I run because I love being part of a team and surrounded by beauty. I run because I can. I’m honored to have the opportunity to run with Team EMC in Tanzania. I’m so excited to run with such an amazing group of people and meet some of the women and families that EMC helps. I was in Tanzania 5 years ago and I had such an incredible time. I feel so thankful to go back to such a beautiful place with people I love.

Ian Wason

I moved to South Africa from the UK 13 years ago to help spread financial literacy and empower South Africans. I founded, own and run South Africa’s largest debt counseling business focused on financially educating and helping South Africans to manage their money and become debt free. I’m acutely aware of this continent’s problems and the frustration that so much of the misery is preventable. When I was asked to run the Kilimanjaro Marathon for Every Mother Counts, I jumped at the opportunity. Christy’s quote, “Each preventable death is one death too many” resonated with me, especially since my wonderful doctor-niece, Sophie, just spent three months working in a Tanzanian hospital. In addition, my wife is pregnant with our second child. It’s at these times when you realize how lucky you are to have access to healthcare. I’ll do whatever I can to improve the chances of others getting access to healthcare.

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