The most important person for me to nominate as a SheJumper—to the fullest extent—is my mother. I think I can honestly say (and Lynsey and Vanessa can back me up on this one), that without her, you would not be at this website right now. She has been the backbone of this organization, supporting us through her random donations of boxes, office supplies, a P.0. Box address at her UPS store, business cards, business advice, support, and love. She has believed in SheJumps since the very beginning. Thank you mom for your support!
Amy Bigbee, born in 1957 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the girl who has worn all hats throughout her life. Growing up on livestock ranches (one in Encino, NM, and another in Cromo, CO), she spent almost every single day until she was 18 on a horse. She was a real bona-fide cowgirl. Along with her twin sister, Diane, they made all their own clothes, cultivated and preserved all the food for the ranch (and ranch hands) and were both 4-H leaders (not to mention 4-H Cotton Festival and State Fair Queens—taking turns since they look identical). From the moment they were old enough, they learned life to be a give and take, living with the land and learning lessons from the passing of seasons through the high desert of New Mexico and Colorado. I guess keeping all this in mind is what makes me have such respect and honor for where my mom is today. In the span of time that followed college, she took so many jumps that it can be hard to keep track. I think for most of us, the idea of riding a horse every single day (not for pleasure, but for work) and helping to keep a 150,000 acre ranch operating smoothly would seem like enough of a jump, but the other side of that coin would be to leave the ranch and to pursue so many things that never seemed possible to a girl from a background like hers.
When she graduated college with a degree in marketing, she found herself learning about nutrition (not related, but sometimes the stones on our paths never are). She became entirely macrobiotic—my brother and I never consumed white sugar until we were in kindergarten. When we were in elementary school, she became passionately involved with maintaining the beauty of Santa Fe, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The program was aptly named “Keep Santa Fe Beautiful.” I remember waking up early on Saturday mornings to pick up trash on the side of highways. Grumbling about it doesn’t begin to explain my adverse reaction to such activities; but hindsight is always 20/20, and now I am grateful to see how picking up one piece of trash can make such a difference.
She started her own Jazzercise center in Santa Fe as well. She did almost all the re-modeling and construction to the center herself and never lost sight of her vision for a place of health and sanctuary for so many women to express themselves through dance and exercise. As a young girl of only 6 or 7, I watched in awe of my mom teaching class after class all day long, only to sit down to her bookkeeping and run the entire center’s administration by night. I saw women—young and old—become transformed throughout their time there, physically and emotionally. I also saw how that repaid my mom: gifts of praise, random accoutrements for the center and our house, and volunteers helping to keep the Jazzercise center open poured in from all angles. This was my first experience of understanding the law of the universe: give and ye shall receive.
Throughout all the tough times—divorce with my father, paying a mortgage on a house as a single mom, never letting my brother or I know how little money we had (but making it seem like we had plenty), staying enthusiastic while teaching 5 Jazzercise classes a day, and still finding time to volunteer with litter collection (of all things, right?!)—Mom never lost her glow or enthusiasm for life. I learned from her that energy abound comes from within, and if there is a will there is a way.
Today I talk to Mom and I can’t begin to explain how much she has influenced my life. We still have our roots on farms, and she is still a cowgirl at heart (pot of beans on the stove, spurs on the wall, and pecans in the freezer). She has always encouraged my passions—skiing, and SheJumps—and she still bends over backwards to do what she can to help. What prompted me to write this is a voicemail message I got from her yesterday. Crying, through tears I can hear her, “Claire, I just got the copy of the Ski Journal. When I opened up the page you were on, I just started crying because I’m so proud of you for not giving up. You’ve had this dream for so long, and there you are!” Well mom, the feeling is mutual. Thank you for teaching me how to jump and supporting everyone at SheJumps. —Claire Smallwood, Executive Director