By Karen Lozano
Doctor Danielle Myers makes no bones about it: Family is spelled S-H-A-D-O-W-C-H-A-S-E.
“My family is scattered all over the country — and both my parents and in-laws have passed away. I could not have raised my two children without the love and support of the ‘family’ that I have found in the ShadowChase Running Club,” Myers explained.
Myers, who serves as secretary on the club’s board of directors, joined ShadowChase in 2008.
“I wanted to run a half marathon, and back in the ‘olden days’ there weren’t any training groups. I heard about Shadowchase at the (Modesto) Memorial Classic, and went to a group run one Sunday. (Dave) Busby and Heidi (Ryan) were kind enough to run with me and answer my million questions! “
As she became more active with the group, she said she was asked to run for secretary. From there she has added on serving as co-medical director of the Modesto Marathon, sits on the health and safety committee, and is a key member of the ShadowChase race timing team.
While serving as secretary, Myers and her physician husband, Dr. Pete Pecci, became parents of Lucy, now 5, and Leo, a rambunctious 3-year-old.
How does the 42-year-old family practice physician balance a demanding job, family time, volunteering, and running?
That’s where her ShadowChase family steps in, she acknowledges.
“I remember a race when Lucy was about 3 months old, and someone asked me where my baby was. I basically said, ‘Oh, someone has her.’ I know that they are safe and loved at any event, and surrounded by lots of ‘aunts and uncles,’ “ she explained.
Lucy and Leo, and Pete for that matter, didn’t stand a chance as far as ShadowChase membership goes.
“I ran pregnant with Lucy (did a marathon at 8 weeks, two halfs, and a two-mile race a month before she was born),” explained Myers. “Pete ran his first half with me during my pregnancy. Leo and Lucy both did a mile race when they were 18 months old!”
Myers says she is most proud “that my kids are willingly running and enjoying doing it.
“Seeing Leo’s smile when he realized he won a medal in his mile, and seeing Lucy’s face as she crossed the finish line of her first 5k at 5 years old will stay with me forever.”
Myers was honored for all she gives to the club as Volunteer of the Year at the annual club awards banquet in January.
“It means the world to me! … Shadowchase has helped me through some of the hardest times in my life — from losing family members, job issues, and my two pregnancies. I want my children to grow up learning that it is important to give back to the community — especially in a way that brings people together and keeps them healthy.”
Myers said she has seen the club grow tremendously through the years.
“The board meetings used to be in a little hall at a gym. We joke that the minutes were written on a napkin before I brought my computer! Now we have our own office. We have formal agendas and budgets, and the training group is absolutely amazing! The support that the club provides to those just starting out is phenomenal.
“I LOVE the fact that the training group has brought running and increased health to so many people in Modesto,” she emphasizes. “I love the fact that many of those in the training group are now giving back by volunteering as mentors and coaches, and on our board as well.”
To those considering joining ShadowChase, Myers enthusiastically says, “Come out for a run with us on the weekend. Volunteer at one of our races. It never hurts to try something to see if it is the right fit for you! We are truly like a family — we have our disagreements at times, but we always come together to do the right thing and be there for each other.”
If you’d like to see someone featured in the Volunteer Spotlight, please write to Karen Lozano at firstname.lastname@example.org.