This month’s member spotlight features Angela Bridegam. It is hard to miss Angela at most of our events, as she is typically surrounded by girls gearing up to cheer on runners and walkers or running RWM races together. Angela has been a member of Run Wild Missoula for some time now and she will be stepping into the office more regularly to fill in for Sally while she is on maternity leave.
Angela spent the first 11 years of her life in Oregon before moving to Texas because her dad got a job as an environmental engineer in Houston. She stayed in Texas throughout college at Texas A&M. After graduation, Angela joined the Peace Corps and headed to Guatemala but shortly into her time there, she received the news that her brother passed away suddenly. Several months later, Angela decided it was in her best interest to return to Austin, Texas where she worked as a sexual assault and domestic violence advocate. Several years later in the lone star state, she and her husband, Patrick, decided to return to the Peace Corps but this time in Peru.
After their two years in Peru, Angela and Patrick circled back to Austin to start laying down some roots. She continued her work at the same nonprofit from before she left for the Peace Corps. They had their first child, Lila, in Austin before heading northwest to Seattle. That is where they had their second child, Anaya, and Patrick started a graduate program. While in Seattle, Angela started volunteering her time at an organization doing nutrition work with lower income families when she was not at home with their two children and working part time at the University. Once Patrick finished his masters in Public Policy and Forestry, they relocated to Colville, Washington for a period of time but it was not long before they decided that they wanted a change of scenery and Angela wanted to pursue her graduate studies. This is how the Bridegams landed in Missoula in 2016. Angela finished her MPA with a nonprofit certificate in 2020 at UM but not before adding another member to their pack, Eve!
Angela did not grow up as a competitive runner or athlete, she gravitated towards running while she was in college as a way to practice self-care. Running was hard and therefore gratifying, it was also a solo act for Angela. At its core, running has been healing for Angela. Brain research has shown that bilateral stimulation in a pattern creates access to parts of your brain that you would not normally tap into and many of those areas are places where we feel or store trauma. Overall, running has been a way to process and heal from the many challenges that life presents. When her family moved to Missoula, she put running more on the back burner to delve into Crossfit as a means of strength training. She has returned to more consistent running in the last few years!
Angela started Go Run Missoula in August of 2020, which had been a brainchild of hers for some time. In a nutshell, Go Run Missoula is a non-competitive running program for girls in 3rd through 6th grade that encourages leadership development through running. Her professional background in sexual assault and domestic violence prevention informs the content of Go Run Missoula’s curriculum, focusing on the installation of protective factors such as healthy mentors, healthy peer groups, and support for social emotional development to equip girls to avoid adverse experiences as they become teens and young adults. In this way, Go Run Missoula is a blend of of social work and a fitness program.The leadership development side of Go Run Missoula focuses on instilling leadership characteristics in kids and helping them explore many facets of leadership like what failure feels like, dismantling perfectionism, encouraging confidence, feeling comfortable being different, and goal setting (to name a few). Although Go Run Missoula is only a few years old and started as a small pilot program, it has grown immensely. So far they have completed 35 hours of community service, empowered 135 young leaders, and collectively run over 1,097 miles!
Recently, Angela has decided to join the Run Wild Missoula team for the next few months to help out while Sally is on maternity leave. A lot of the values at Go Run Missoula intersect with those of Run Wild Missoula, from creating running opportunities to fostering an inclusive running community. She is excited to lend a helping hand and to learn the inner workings of the nonprofit. Not to mention it is a fun place to work with great co-workers and there is a constant stream of snacks!
When Angela is not working, she enjoys other recreational activities with her family, house projects, camping, and gardening. She is excited to do her first spartan race in BigFork. Other than that, She is looking forward to becoming a better half marathoner. She will be tackling the Mountains to Meadows half next month and then another half marathon in Whitefish in October. If you see Angela around the office or at any of our events over the next few months, be sure to say hi!