Dr. Tiffany Welch
A lifelong resident of northcentral Pennsylvania, Tiffany has always been involved with her community on some level. After graduating with her first social work degree from Mansfield University in 2005, she fell in love with working with people. Since that time, she has continued her education, finishing both her MSW and doctorate degrees. Along the way she has worked with individuals affected by addiction in multiple settings, including in the home, in the community, in schools, in prisons, in hospitals and now as an assistant professor in higher education. Running has not always been a part of Tiffany’s life and she will gladly tell you that running fast has never been her priority. Tiffany had never ran an entire mile until she was 31 years old. Recognizing the need to get her family motivated to move she joined her husband and 2 very reluctant children for their first ever trail run later that year. To her surprise, she loved it. She has since ran a variety of events, including 5k’s, 8k’s, half marathons, marathons, 25k trail runs, which are her personal favorites, and even the bald Eagle Mountain Megatransect which was her toughest challenge yet, a 27+ mile trail run over the mountains.
Two years ago her then 9 year old son asked if he could run a half marathon. Of course she agreed. They were on day three of training and about five minutes into the run as she was attempting to teach him the importance of mindfulness. She was telling him about the importance of being able to be in the moment and to enjoy the views around him when they happened to look down and notice a dirty needle, … uncapped… that both of them barely missed as they ran around it. It was in that very moment that Tiffany had the opportunity to act. She could have chosen to act in a number of ways. She could have easily chose the ignorant path and continued to run pretending that she saw nothing. A second choice she could have made was to allow herself to act with her emotions-to become angry, upset, and disgusted with the individual who threw that needle out, who was responsible for possibly putting her son (and herself and every other runner along the roadway) in danger of being exposed to whatever substance was left on it. She made a different choice that day. She chose to see that needle, that used syringe, in a way that many people may not. She saw it as a sign that there was a clear need in her community. That on the other end of that needle there was an individual, someone who may need some support, maybe some services, maybe even some love. She decided that day that she would become educated in whatever way that she could about addiction. Additionally she was motivated to share what she learned along the way. As she educated herself, she found different needs in her community and became involved in a multitude of ways.
Along that journey of education and advocacy, she has come into contact and has been blessed to know many individuals who live with the disease of addiction. She has been able to teach some, learn from many, support some, and yes…has even went outside of her comfort zone once or twice and gave away a hug or two. She is committed to remaining active in her community as an advocate for those without a voice. Tiffany and her family are very involved in their community, having obtained grants for local non-profits, helping to organize 5k’s, raising funds for the homeless, participating in overseas mission work, and working with local military service members. She will continue to educate others about the disease and will continue to keep her mind open to learning all that she can about the causes, the services available, the treatment options, and the needs of not only those with addiction but those who support them as well. She is beyond grateful for the opportunity to serve as a Runwell ambassador and looks forward to the many ways to get her family involved as they all take being active in their community very seriously.