By: Karen Lozano
In the world of volunteers, there are people whose lives are so fulfilling, they leave you breathless, yet motivated to do better and give more. We are humbled by their selfless gift to others, yet gasping in the wake of their activity. Gabriela Guerrini — Gabi to her friends — is one such whirlwind. Perhaps that’s one reason why she’s the perfect person to serve as Director of Volunteers for the Modesto Marathon.
“I am responsible for recruiting up to 600 volunteers for the marathon and organizing them,” she explains, then adds, “Shameless plug: email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be part of our great event! “
That’s Gabi, always working the crowd, and usually with a smile and kind word. Perhaps that’s why she’s still such great friends with her ex-husband.
Yep, they’re still so friendly with each other many people don’t even realize she was married to our ShadowChase Running Club Past President Thomas Lopes. The two were married for 10 years and have raised two children – Matthew and Madeline – together.
Guerrini joined ShadowChase about five years ago, beginning like many with the Modesto Marathon training group. “I ran my first half at the Modesto Marathon with my son Matthew.
“I joined because of the year of the horrible storm – 2010? 2011? — I helped my friend at the aid station in front of her house (mile 1.55). The excitement I felt seeing all the runners go by was addicting! I had to be part of the running community!”
She definitely jumped in with both feet running.
Besides helping with the marathon and a multitude of other ShadowChase activities, Guerrini serves on the board of the Dusty Bottoms Trail Runners as secretary.
“We put on a few races and fund-raise for the Center for Human services,” she said.
She’s also helping Modesto distance elite runner Jon Olsen put on his 24 hour race in February 2017. “This is super exciting,” she said. “It’s the first time I am helping a real celebrity!”
Guerrini says her motivation to volunteer grew from Modesto being put in a bad light. “A friend once said, ‘if you’re going to live here, try to make it better, not worse.’ I believe that Modesto is a great place for us to be and I want to help make it somewhere people are proud to live. And now that I am an empty nester, it is easier to wear many hats.”
A true Renaissance woman, Guerrini works as an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor at Modesto Junior College and Merced College. “For Merced, I work with migrant farmers, teaching out of a housing complex they live at during their season.” She’s also been a waitress and bartender for over 30 years. “I still get hired to do caterings and private bartending gigs,” she said. “At most parties, you’ll find me at the bar mixing drinks for people.”
She’s also organizing a fund raiser between the Prospect Theater and DBTR for this Halloween!
We should add ultra runner to her long resume since she’s completed the Way Too Cool 50K race. “I can’t look back and say which race was my favorite,” she said. “There is something special about each of my races. If you know me, I am very social, and I love running with my friends anywhere!”
She also dabbles in tai chi since her partner of 11 years, Jim Hutson, “is really into tai chi and has travelled to Nice, France; Lapland, Finland; and every year goes to La Honda and Sandy Island, NH, for tai chi camps.”
So what could be left on this woman’s agenda?
“My future running goal is to heal my achilles, which has kept me from running since June. Very frustrating! Other goals: get my kids through college and live a happy and fulfilling life.
“I see myself in the future doing more of what I love — enjoying life with Jim, travelling and being active.”