Meet Dawn Schroeder, founder and director of Momentum 4 Life; a program she started in 2003 to help individuals challenge themselves as they train for marathons, triathlons, 5K’s 10K’s and more. Her M4L members range from young children to seniors, mother-daughter teams to married couples, and her most loyal fans; those facing what seem to be insurmountable challenges such as Christine Feldman, a local mother of two. Christine turned to Dawn for hope when she found out her breast cancer had come back for the second time. “I had just come out of the doctor’s office,” Christine says, “when I looked up on a bulletin board and saw a flyer advertising scholarships for cancer patients to join M4L. I was absolutely devastated but I called Dawn up and she came right along side me, giving me the courage to fight back by showing me how tough I really am. Thanks to her, I feel like I can handle anything. She gave me back my life.”
Dawn’s secret in bringing out such passionate praise from her members is in her training model, which is based on the concept that people do their best when training as a team. “The connection with other people is what makes someone finish their goal”, says Dawn, who herself has been in competitive sports most of her life. “I learned early on, from my years on the San Marcos swim team, and then later when I went from UCSB to the Olympic Trials in 1984 and 1988, a team helps you learn life’s most important lessons.” Add fun, positive energy and the commitment to give back to your community and you’ve got a fool-proof formula, one that continually helps M4L grow in numbers every year.
Of course it helps that Dawn’s vision has drawn in a first rate team of trainers. There’s her husband, Richard, a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist who specializes in perfecting swimming technique. Greg Wilson, the Head Coach of the UCSB Men and Women’s swim team, who year after year, invites Dawn back to her alma mater to give a pep talk to his swimmers. Hawaii Ironman finisher, Marcella Young who organizes the youth program for M4L, Dayna Jordan, a trainer and massage therapist, who’s been with M4L for ten years, Marcie Kjoller who heads up the M4L Kid’s Tri Camp each year, Anthony Garibay, the long distance running coach and Perry Lieber who brings his expertise in nutrition counseling to complete the package Dawn delivers to M4L members. “We all want the same thing for our members,” says Dawn. “Whether it’s getting them to face their fear of swimming in the ocean during a triathlon or empowering someone to finish a race, no matter how long it takes. My team and I want to be there; cheering them on and wrapping them in big hugs as they come over the finish line.”
Dawn also believes in community service for M4L. Since the very beginning, she has reached out to others; urging her members to support local charities with donations in time, effort and financial assistance. The Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Story Teller, The Dream Foundation, The Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, Direct Relief International and dozens more, have all been the recipient of M4L’s generous fundraising with their annual Divas at the Double Tree event attracting hundreds of people all coming together for a good cause.
“I am a better person because of Dawn”, says Fran Lewbel, who not only trains with M4L, but graciously sponsors aspiring athletes through the M4L scholarship fund each year. “She’s a leader, a mentor, a friend and a coach”. Kind words for a one of a kind woman.