Tenia Fisher loves running. Well, sort of.
Fisher, a Milwaukee-native and Hall of Fame UW-Milwaukee track athlete, has a different relationship with running now than she used to. “I’m no longer that fast,” Fisher says laughing. Over a decade after her record-setting UW-Milwaukee track days, she says it took her a while to be “able to go out and enjoy it. But now I’m at peace with running.”
Her role as a running captain with F.E.A.R. MKE has helped make that possible.
F.E.A.R. (Forget Everything and Run) started in 2015 as a way to promote health and wellness amongst young professionals of Milwaukee. It’s a program within Social X MKE – a diversity and inclusion consulting group – for which Fisher is the director of health and wellness. “We want to create a space that helps keep people staying in this city, who might otherwise have a lot of reasons to leave,” she says.
Fisher, whose day job is an educator with a classroom full of six-year-olds, has found passion in activism and creating safe spaces in Milwaukee. She says, “F.E.A.R.’s doing an excellent job of that, of creating a space that feels like family. We accept you, any shape, size, running level. No matter what type of person you are, you can join our group and run.”
When Fisher was younger she admired Black female sprinters, but didn’t see the same representation in athletes that ran longer distances. “I really want people to pay attention to these American long-distance runners. It’s a really big deal that a lot of them are not people of color,” she says referring to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. “We need to change that narrative and it can start here in this little park in Milwaukee.”
It’s a sunny Saturday morning at Atwater Park and runners are splitting into two groups that will run two different distances. There are tables of food, drink, and sneaker demos for F.E.A.R. members to enjoy after the run. It’s Tenia’s birthday, a day she shares with Juneteenth. She feels lucky to be spending her birthday with her closest friends – F.E.A.R. runners – on one of her favorite holidays in Milwaukee. “These are my people. We’re all each others’ people,” she says.
Fisher acknowledges the hardest part is coming out and trying running. She’s found, though, once people join, they find far more meaning than a workout. F.E.A.R. is a safe space for a diverse group of people. Sometimes over 40 runners come together to mix health with community. Many of these folks have not been able to find such a space until joining F.E.A.R.
Fisher’s number one goal is to continue getting more people of color at the weekly runs. She is also motivated to reach people who might be new to running. “I really want for F.E.A.R to reflect our city. It’d be really cool to get people to see how great Milwaukee is.”
Fisher says, “I’ve always said I can try to change the world through running. And that’s what we’re doing.”