Honoring The 2015 Toyota Everyday Heroes

Heidi Boynton, co-founder and executive director of Mini Mermaid Running Club, was honored as a Toyota Everyday Hero at the espnW: Women + Sports Summit. The club helps girls fall in love with movement and discover their internal voice.

Launched at the 2013 espnW: Women + Sports Summit, the Toyota Everyday Heroes program honors women who are working to promote and grow sports for girls and women in their local communities.

Meet The 2015 Everyday Heroes


HEIDI BOYNTON

Boynton is the executive director and co-founder of the Mini Mermaid Running Club for girls ranging from 5 to 15 years old. The mission of the club is to help build self-esteem, teach healthy eating and living skills, while giving girls a chance to fall in love with running, moving their bodies and experiencing the satisfaction of crossing a finish line. The club wants to provide all girls with strategies to combat feelings of insecurity and tools to build self-esteem, thus empowering them to make better choices in the future. The organization is changing the lives of girls and young women by shifting their internal experience and the way they interact with the world around them. Mini Mermaid Running Club participants train for a local 5K through a structured program that meets biweekly for six weeks. Mini Mermaid has programs in 13 states and nine countries, and in just over six years of programming, more than 5,200 girls have participated in the six-week curriculum. Boynton has competed in more than 25 triathlons, multiple marathons and ultimately completed Ironman distance triathlons. She has twice been diagnosed with cancer, in 2001 and 2008, and has made a commitment to empowering women and girls worldwide through endurance coaching, speaking, writing and service work. Boynton has two sons and lives in Santa Cruz, California.

CHRISSY SUMMERS

In 2010, Summers founded Beyond Sticks, a field hockey organization that brings an integrative approach to leadership and confidence, alongside technical game instruction. Today, there are 650 girls enrolled in their camps, academies, partner club and league annually.. What makes Beyond Sticks stand out is the focus on empowering student-athletes to become leaders through sport. The Beyond Sticks staff focuses on training young women how to achieve a high skill level and technical knowledge of the game, but also believes success comes when athletes are able to translate these skills into other areas of life, and does so through our Play Beyond the Game curriculum. The non-profit arm of the organization created a recreational league for girls called the Loudon County League, which consists of around 250 girls. A group of concerned parents and Summers started the league because varsity level field hockey wasn't offered for high school girls in Loudoun County (Virginia). The league is held in the fall and the spring, and girls are coached by parent volunteers. The league is supported through fundraisers and donations, and typically 10 girls receive scholarships. The league also has successfully lobbied for 16 high schools in Loudoun County to adopt field hockey. In April of 2016, the school board will vote on whether it will continue to fund the program, or if the non-profit will have to raise funding on its own. Summers gave birth to her first child last September after spending four years coaching high school varsity field hockey. A former collegiate player at Vassar, Summers was a four-time NCAA All-Academic honors recipient, captained her junior and senior years and received All-Conference honors in her final season. Summers lives in New York, where her husband is on active duty. Summers is a volunteer coach at Columbia University.

Meet The 2014 Everyday Heroes

DR. KIMBERLY S. CLAY

A public health professional and former academician, Dr. Kimberly Clay, of Nashville, Tennessee, is the founder and executive director of Play Like a Girl -- a resource to inspire girls to live a happier, healthier and more active lifestyle by promoting physical activity. Her research, which explores the relationship between cancer, survivorship and spirituality, has been cited in Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work, Health Education Research and Cancer Control. She serves on multiple community organizations including YWCA of Middle Tennessee and Junior League of Nashville, among many others.


MONICA GONZALEZ

ESPN soccer commentator and former professional player Mónica González is the founder of Gonzo Soccer, a not-for-profit soccer and leadership academy for girls ages 8 through 16 from Chicago's underserved communities. The former All-American and Academic All-American at Notre Dame was a founding member in 1998 of the Mexican women's national team, helping lead it in the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup and serving as its captain from 2003 to 2007. González, a native of Richardson, Texas, played two with the Boston Breakers, earning 2003 WUSA All-Star honors.


CLAIRE SMALLWOOD

Smallwood is the executive director of SheJumps, a nonprofit whose mission is to increase female participation in outdoor activities. She holds a BA from Lewis & Clark College in Foreign Languages and Literatures. "What inspires me about my work with SheJumps is the chance to create opportunities for women and children who would normally have none," she says, "and to plant the idea that it is possible to live an adventurous and inspiring lifestyle, no matter who you are or where you come from."


Meet the 2013 Everyday Heroes


MOBOLAJI AKIODE

Akiode grew up playing basketball and graduated as Fordham's sixth all-time leading scorer. After graduating from college, she played professional basketball in Europe and for the Nigerian national team. It was that time with Nigeria that sparked Akiode's dream to build the Hope 4 Girls foundation, which focuses on instilling discipline, developing leadership skills, promoting pro-social friendships and reasserting a sense of hope in the future amongst girls from less privileged backgrounds. Since its launch in March 2010, Hope 4 Girls has opened its doors to girls from Ghana and Benin Republic and helped girls secure student athletic scholarships.

BARB LAZARUS

Lazarus, who was a four-sport athlete in high school, has dedicated the past eight years to creating opportunities for girls in Chicago through Game On! Sports Camps 4 Girls, program that holds summer camps that help empower girls (ages 4-14) to develop or enhance their passion for sports. In addition to the camps, Lazarus also created the Game On! Foundation, which raises funds to help young girls gain more opportunities through sports.

JUSTINE SIEGAL

Siegal, a pioneer in the baseball community, was the first woman to throw batting practice for an MLB team and coach a men's pro team. Using her milestones as inspiration, Siegal founded Baseball For All, a program that provides meaningful opportunities in baseball, especially for girls.

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