Wow. I had an incredibly inspiring and memorable time last night at the Seattle premiere of “Every Mile, Every Mother,” a documentary directed by Christy Turlington. Yes, that Christy Turlington.
When I was a a preteen and teenager, my walls were papered with Vogue and Elle covers, and some of those covers featured Christy. I read fashion magazines voraciously during the 90s, when she and her cadre (including Cindy, Linda, and Naomi) were touted as the original “supermodels.”
In my 20s, I had (fortunately) outgrown my fashion-worship phase and was busy going to college and then grad school, learning to be an adult, and picking up some bad habits on the way. Like smoking. I remember reading a story about Christy Turlington, whose father–a smoker–had fallen ill with cancer because of his habit. She had recently quit smoking and was using the media to raise awareness about how even seemingly healthy young people (like her), were susceptible to smoking-related diseases. For some reason, her story affected me in a way that the warnings on the cigarette packaging and gory PSAs had not. I struggled to quit smoking for some time, but I eventually did.
As my 30s have passed, I haven’t had much time to keep up with the fashion magazines or entertainment news as my work and kids keep me occupied, and as my own “Molly-time” is consumed with running, blogging, reading, or what have you. But in the last year or so, I started seeing things online about her charitable organization, Every Mother Counts, and its mission to reduce maternal mortality rates in developing countries and even the US. I had always considered her to be super cool, but this raised her coolness to the nth degree.
I was therefore delighted receive an invitation from Christy and Oiselle’s founder and head bird, Sally Bergesen, to attend the Seattle debut of “Every Mile, Every Mother.” I brought my friend, running partner, and aspiring Flock-mate, Aimee, with me to the event.
There were at least a couple hundred people in attendance at the charming and historic event space located about a block away from Greenlake and its iconic running route. While we sipped wine (or beer, in Aimee’s case), ate some apps, and browsed the Every Mother Counts gear for sale, we became more than a little star-struck when Christy arrived at the party.
As we waited for the documentary to start, I recognized a fellow Flock-mate from Twitter, Melissa, and introduced myself and chatted for a while. (See you on a run soon, Melissa!)
Sally from Oiselle made introductory remarks, explaining how she first connected with Christy by lurking in a hotel lobby. Sally’s story was adorable, totally relatable, and showed incredible chutzpah. Then Christy took the stage and spoke a bit before the documentary started.
Viewing “Every Mile, Every Mother” was an eye-opening experience for me. While I had some idea about what Every Mother Counts did before last night, watching the film provided me better detail of how the organization is on the ground in developing countries like Haiti and Uganda, providing training that is bound to lead to improved maternal outcomes. The film also documented Every Mother Counts’ participation at Hood to Coast 2013, when its relay team ran about 200 miles from Mt. Hood to the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness about the lengths so many women have to go to in order to reach medical assistance for childbirth. One relay team member’s story was particularly moving, as she related how fortunate she and her family were to have access to advanced medical care that ended up preventing a terrible complication during the birth of her daughter.
The audience was rapt, remaining silent until the last of the credits rolled. Then we erupted with applause.
During the screening, I accidentally knocked into the woman standing next to me and apologized. After the doc finished, we looked at each other at the same time and asked, “Are you… Sarah/Molly?” It was Sarah from Sarah the Fit Foodie, who I’ve connected with on Twitter! We bonded some more over our mutual obsession for Cafe Yumm and chatted for a bit before we all started posing for photos.
We also made Sally pose with us.
The night was almost over, but Aimee and I wanted to talk to Christy, who had been engaged in pretty deep conversation with several attendees throughout most of the event. We were able to talk with her for several minutes and she could not have been more kind and down-to-earth, setting her apart from other celebrities I’ve met. It is obvious that Every Mother Counts is not some vanity project and that Christy is completely invested in its mission. I have the highest respect for how she has used her fame and influence to make a difference in the lives of so many voiceless women.
What an experience! My heartfelt thanks go to Christy, Sally, and Oiselle for making this night possible.