Live Inspired

Behind the Scenes: Even More Than Yesterday

It’s the everyday moments that make partnership real, meaningful, and lasting. With Even More Than Yesterday, we sought to create a book that honors these everyday experiences—and the simple joys that create our daily lives.

“I’m glad it’s possible for a person to feel so much like home. So right and so true.”

Lyrical, warm, and tender, every statement in Even More Than Yesterday is paired with a delightful illustration. From a French press with coffee set for two to a pair of toothbrushes at a shared sink and sets of playfully mismatched socks, the illustrations—hand drawn in gouache and assembled digitally—evoke scenes from a day at home with a loved one.

The designer focused on the little moments in every day that are so much brighter when shared.

“Our lives are so affected by the person we share them with, from grand romantic gestures to small imperfections that make you smile, and I wanted the visual narrative to tell that story,” says illustrator and designer Jill Labieniec.

As part of their creative process, both the author and illustrator immersed themselves in the themes of lasting connections and daily expressions of love. “I spent a lot of time thinking about the strong, caring, successful partnerships I know and see in my life and in my community,” author M.H. Clark recalls. “I thought about the people I love most in this world... I thought about the little, everyday ways that people have of keeping the flame of love lit.”

A book sitting open on a table beside a cup of tea evokes the quiet presence of a person you hold deep affection for. Each illustration in this book is paired with a warm sentiment. Here it reads “You, just there, in the other room.”

For Labieniec, who was preparing her own wedding invitations at the time she was first sketching ideas for this title, the work became reason to “pause and think back on my own relationship... even without knowing it, I put a lot of elements from my life into this book.” She also drew inspiration from romantic black-and-white movies, playing them in the background as she illustrated.

The majority of this book was illustrated from the designer’s kitchen table. “Being able to look around my home at all the things I love, and the memories they hold, helped me to focus on what I wanted to convey…

Even More Than Yesterday honors the long-term journey two people have been on together as well as the smaller, day-to-day moments of the relationship. It offers many creative opportunities to tell someone how much you love and care. Clark suggests this title could be “given just because, or even read aloud as part of someone’s wedding vows... I love to think about the ways this book might help people express themselves and their love for each other.” This is also a book that inspires us to notice expressions of love that we can easily overlook.  As Labieniec says, Even More Than Yesterday can be a reminder “just to enjoy the beauty of having found someone who will eat all of your orange Skittles.”

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What Do You Do With a Chance? Is Here to Inspire Amazing Acts of Bravery

What do you do when a big chance comes your way—a chance that excites, entices, and scares you, all at the same time? Do you ignore it? Do you shy away from it? Or do you grab hold and let it take you to places you’ve never been?

What Do You Do With a Chance?—the final book in our New York Times best-selling series—is here and inspiring readers of all ages to be brave and embrace the wondrous opportunities that come their way. Because you never know when taking a chance just might lead to something remarkable.

In the third book of the series, our favorite character from What Do You Do With an Idea? and What Do You Do With a Problem? now finds himself encountering a chance, represented by a golden, origami-style butterfly. Fear and uncertainty leave him unsure of what to do as chance after chance circle around him. And regret and disappointment soon follow when he realizes he’s let his chances slip away. But with a bit of courage and a lot of resolve, the boy discovers that when you’re brave and say yes to new experiences, amazing things can happen. Through brilliant watercolors and pencil drawings, illustrator Mae Besom takes us on a journey from the gloominess of a life spent playing it safe to one lived full out.

The first two books in the award-winning series are a call to nurture bright ideas and face your fears, and What Do You Do With a Chance? offers the perfect concluding message: go for it!

“I want these books to encourage kids to make every moment count, to hold nothing back, to live their best life,” says author Kobi Yamada. “The reality is we’re all only here for a little while; this is our one and only shot. If we are going to make some kind of positive difference in the world, it starts with the belief that we can.”

As the new year hands you new ideas, challenges, and chances, we hope the words in the entire What Do You Do With…? series remind you of all the possibilities around and within you. And that this year can be one of daring discoveries and grand adventures.

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Discover the Creative Inspiration Behind Escapes

Vacations have a way of restoring us on every level—body, mind, and spirit. They remind us that the world is full of beauty and adventure. They give us a chance to discover what happens when we break with our daily routine and seek out the unexpected. And, most importantly, they reconnect us to ourselves.

Simply put, vacations reignite our spirits. And that’s exactly what we set out to do in creating Escapes. Escapes offers a series of tiny vacations with poetic and sensory writing about beautiful destinations and evocative watercolor images.

“Maybe someone doesn’t have the means or the time to travel,” says Sarah Forster, the artist behind Escapes, “but with this book, they can still be transported to the magic of a place no matter where they are.”

It was a particular moment in Paris that gave Sarah the idea for this book. “I stepped off the train,” she said, “and the sky had a softness to it. I could smell sweet blooms in the air. Pigeons cooed and the sounds of the city were like music.” Every time she thinks back to that moment, years later, she says it still brings her a feeling of bliss.

“I wanted to share that joy and inspiration with others,” Sarah says, and that’s where the idea for this book was born. Sarah’s impressionistic watercolors give a glimpse into other worlds, and leave room for you to imagine the rest. Paired with M.H. Clark’s writing, each page offers a chance to go somewhere, to experience something, and to bring a bit of your journey back with you.

To create each vignette, Sarah used very wet and loose watercolors, then added a pinch of salt for “unexpected flair.” “I love creating the paintings,” she reflects. “I tried to let the paint take on its own life on the paper and not control it so much… to just let the magic happen.”

In addition to the evocative images, Sarah used hand lettering on certain phrases, including the cover title, to highlight their importance while also offering an intimate, personal feel. “I wanted the look to feel calm and easy to read—providing the reader a space to breathe and take a moment.” Sarah also chose a cloth material for the cover, with foil-embossed lettering, to give readers a book that echoes the sensory, tactile nature of the exercises and images inside.

Wanting to evoke the sensations of travel—and the potential it offers—Clark intentionally chose places that would bring a rich, vivid experience to readers. “From snowy cedar forests to rocky coasts and desert scenes at sunset, Escapes is a chance to connect with a sense of stillness, calm, groundedness, and inspiration,” she says. “We feel so deeply alive when we notice and feel engaged with the world… it’s that sense of being truly, wonderfully present that I wanted to capture in these words.”

Whether you’re reading Escapes with a cup of coffee during a break in a busy afternoon, or finding a peaceful moment before bed, it’s our hope that this title, like any good vacation, becomes a way for you to connect to yourself, to rediscover a sense of beauty and adventure, and to restore yourself on every level along the way.

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The Holidays Are Here!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—the time to share your gratitude with those who matter most. Whether you are shopping for a mom, a child, a friend, or a teacher, our Holiday Gift Guide has just the right gifts to inspire and celebrate the special people in your life.



Explore our full holiday collection here.



Discover other creative gifts for kids here.



Find additional ways to say thank you here.



Find more great gifts for under $10 here.

Happy Holidays from Compendium!
Wishing you all the joy and wonder of the holiday season.

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An Inspired Community: Compendium’s Annual Service Day

What does it mean to live inspired? It means to celebrate the magical world we love and live in every day. That celebration is made easy when you look around and see all the people working to leave the world better than they found it. So our staff recently spent the day volunteering with some local organizations filled with people doing just that! During our annual community service day, we teamed up with Treehouse, PAWS, and Marra Farm, three organizations that inspire us while reminding us of some powerful lessons along the way.

Little Wishes Matter
Childhood wishes deserve the chance to grow into big dreams. But for children living in foster care, the shuffle from home to home can sometimes make this challenging. Treehouse works to make sure children living in foster care can pursue their dreams, too. Whether it is experiencing the joy of summer camp or falling in love with a favorite school outfit, through Treehouse, kids in foster care have the extra support they need in building the cherished childhood memories we all value. We spent the day sorting through clothing donations for Treehouse’s Wearhouse, a free boutique store for families to shop for high-quality clothes, books, toys, and supplies. And in between folds, we spent time reminiscing about our own sacred little wishes kept safe by our inner child. 


We All Can Give a Voice to the Voiceless
Animals have a unique way of speaking to our hearts in the most vulnerable of moments. They are our companions, our playmates, our healers, and our family. Yet they have no voice of their own. PAWS is an organization ensuring that our animal friends receive the protection they need. Through animal adoption, rehabilitation, and advocacy, PAWS reminds us of the power we each have to use our voice to make the world better for those we love. At PAWS, we had a chance to get involved in landscaping projects around the facility leading to nearby trails and to consider the courageous ways we can each speak up for others.


Small Seeds Hold Great Possibilities

Food is at the center of our lives. Yet thousands in our community go to bed hungry every day. Marra Farm is growing delicious organic vegetables to provide to families who struggle to afford healthy food. Through their community gardening programs, Marra Farm is doing far more than harvesting plants. They are cultivating relationships, connecting people to the land, and, in the process, making sure families have the food they need to thrive. At Marra, we enjoyed getting our hands dirty, harvesting carrots, beets, green beans, and lettuce. And we enjoyed the satisfaction of knowing these veggies would soon be on their way to the local food bank for families in need.

 

The world is filled with people who remind us of the joys of living inspired—the difference we can make, the community we can build, and the possibilities that surround us. It was an honor for us to spend the day with organizations in our community who, through their work and passion, are giving others the chance to live inspired every day.

Interested in finding a volunteer opportunity in your passion place? Learn more about how you can get involved in your community today.

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Bringing Hope to Hurricane Victims

In battling the recent historic hurricanes, hope is, perhaps, one of our greatest defenses. That’s why Hopebox, a company that crafts beautiful care packages filled with encouragement and messages of comfort, created special boxes just for hurricane survivors in Florida. In addition to featuring our Hope ThoughtFulls and Read This Till You Believe It, these care packages also included handmade cards, prints, lavender sachets, and plush toys to uplift and inspire.

The goal for these Hopeboxes was simple: to deliver hope to those in Florida shelters facing loss. With news of Irma’s anticipated arrival, Hopebox reached out to its partners for support in assembling Hopeboxes for projected hurricane victims. Within 24 hours of Irma’s landfall, 500 Hopeboxes were on their way to Trinity Rescue Mission, an overcapacity women’s and children’s shelter in Jacksonville.

With the storm looming, lines grew rapidly at the shelter as people looked for refuge; the delivery of Hopeboxes couldn’t have come at a better time. “This is such an answer to prayer,” said Jennifer Couch, the executive director of Trinity Rescue Mission. “See these dozens of women and children in the lobby? They are just the ones waiting to be in-processed. There are hundreds more residents back in the shelter. These Hopeboxes will be such an encouragement to them.”

“When the Hopebox team saw what unfolded in Texas with Hurricane Harvey, the threat of Irma to Florida’s residents was vividly clear,” said Hopebox cofounder Derik Timmerman. “We had to do something tangible. When we arrived in Jacksonville and saw the Trinity Rescue Mission choked with mothers and children needing encouragement, we were incredibly grateful to Compendium for helping us do a bit of good for these people.”

Hope is so necessary during times like these, and we’re grateful to Hopebox for allowing us to be a part of bringing support and hope to others. Interested in getting involved? Learn more about how you can help hurricane relief efforts today.

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Guest Blogger: Why The Tooth Fairy Kit is So Much More Than the Tooth Fairy!

The most magical thing about your child losing their first tooth is not the Tooth Fairy. It’s in the process of losing that tooth. The anticipation. The mystery.

And most of all, the rainbow of feelings for the parent and child. My daughter, River, just lost her first tooth after six long weeks of wiggling. She was excited, nervous, frustrated, scared, amazed, curious, and brave. And the thing that helped us through it all was The Tooth Fairy Kit.

The kit has everything you need to go along on this new adventure: a journal to record the story of each lost tooth, a tooth pillow with a pocket for tucking in lost teeth, and an illustrated book about Lunette, the Tooth Fairy.

Every family has their own unique tradition with the Tooth Fairy. Pinterest alone will show you how to make special, glittery Tooth Fairy coins and print Tooth Fairy certificates. As wonderful as these ideas are, they don’t actually focus on the emotions surrounding losing your first tooth. Or the six weeks of waiting!

As soon as River noticed her loose tooth, I gave her The Tooth Fairy Kit. It made the moment much more meaningful for both of us to sit and read Lunette, the True Story of the Tooth Fairy for the first time, write her name in her Tooth Journal, and snuggle her new star pillow.

For the following weeks, she took her star pillow everywhere. She took it to the grocery store.

She tucked it in her cubby at school. “In case my tooth falls out and my teacher doesn’t have a bag for it, Mom.”

She cradled it between her palms at bedtime.

And everywhere she went, she announced, “I have a loose TOOTH!” And proudly displayed her pillow, explaining how she will put her tooth in the pocket when it pops out. She shared smiles with dozens of people over those six weeks.

She also got frustrated that her tooth wasn’t falling out yet! She would forget to wiggle it some days, and the tooth would tighten its grip in her gums. Then at night as we read books in bed, she’d twist and push it so much we’d ask her to stop so she could pay attention to the story.

She’d also cry when she was tired, saying she would miss her tooth when it was gone. She told me she was afraid it would hurt a lot when it fell out.

Her impatience and fear were relieved whenever she took her Tooth Journal out to read all about teeth and how and why they fall out. She carefully filled in her Tooth Tracker in the journal, circling her tooth on the chart and practicing writing Lunette’s name next to her portrait.

River’s tooth eventually did fall out, in the middle of the afternoon, just as I was reaching to take a “before” picture of her smile. She looked up at me with wide eyes and started to cry and laugh all at once. And I held back my own tears mixed with bittersweet joy and pride. 

 

That night, River left a note asking the Tooth Fairy to leave her tooth in her star pillow so that she wouldn’t have to miss it. And the next morning after she discovered a dollar bill AND her tooth still tucked inside her pillow, she believed.

Lunette’s story centers on being brave, clever, and kind. As a fairy, that was her achievement. As a child losing her first tooth, that’s just what River was. And as the perfect companion for a childhood rite of passage, that’s just what The Tooth Fairy Kit is.

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5 Simple Ways to Spread Joy

Making a meaningful impact can be as simple as using our everyday words in a creative way: a thoughtful comment, an unexpected note, or even a charming gift tag can truly brighten someone's day and make a difference. And it’s so rewarding to surprise and delight the people we love and care about.

Our gifts and cards offer many thoughtful, easy, and playful possibilities for sharing fun messages with family and friends. Here are five of our favorite ways to spread a little joy.

 

1. Tie one to a bottle.
Are you bringing a bottle of wine to a dinner with friends? A one-of-a-kind gift tag can transform this simple gift into a beautifully meaningful one, and the effort will only take a few extra minutes. Our On Words cards feature bright sentiments and plenty of room to express appreciation for the good times ahead. Your friends will savor your kind words long after the meal is over.

2. Slip one into luggage.
Time apart can become a special occasion to write to someone you normally see every day. Next time a loved one leaves town without you, try slipping a card (or two or three) into their luggage. Whether they’re leaving for an extended business trip or sleepaway summer camp, they’ll be delighted to discover a message from your heart when they arrive at their destination. With so many inspiring quotations and vibrant designs to choose from, you’ll find a card that’s just right from our Positively Green line.    

 

3. Put one in the mail.
One of the most classic ways of saying “I’m thinking of you” is through a vacation postcard, and with so much communication happening digitally, handwritten words delivered by postal mail is now more enjoyable than ever to receive. On your next getaway, toss a set of our Send These postcards into your bag—even if you’re just travelling to the neighborhood coffee shop—and share these bright messages with friends and family.

4. Place one on a desk.
Consider acknowledging your quietly hardworking coworker, the one who comes through for the team again and again and add this fun twist. Keep the note anonymous and leave it on their desk! This deserving person just might be glowing for days, wondering who took the time to plan the sweet surprise. Our Yes, You cards are a perfect way to deliver a little message with a lot of heart.

5. Add one to your tip.
Perhaps you visit the same café or take-out restaurant often. Does the barista or server make you feel like family? On your next visit, you can return the warmth by adding a small pop-open card to their tip. If you carry around one of our ThoughtFulls in your bag, your gratuity can include a spontaneous surprise message with sincere gratitude.

Try out these simple gestures, and you’ll come up with even more opportunities for finding and spreading joy in your life. We’d love to hear how our products are inspiring you to share positivity in surprising ways with others. Email us at sayhello@compendiuminc.com and tell us what amazing discoveries you’ve made!

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Giggle, Burble, and Bubble Along with Recess Monkey and Dive In!

Calling all explorers! We’re excited to share a peek inside one of our illustrated children’s books, Dive In!: A Topsy-Turvy-Say-It-Out-Loud Underwater Adventure. Written by the acclaimed family music band and Grammy Awardnominated Recess Monkey, and illustrated by Rob McClurkan, this book offers hilarious, interactive fun for the whole family.

Dive In! follows famous explorer Sir Sebastian Stockingbottomham on an underwater adventure, alongside a blobfish named Burt and his sidekick Crab ready to make readers laugh like they’ve never laughed before. Each page invites the whole family to share in the fun by following interactive read-aloud prompts, talk like they’re underwater, and take part in some very silly shenanigans as they move the book (and themselves!) up, down, and all around!

We recently had the opportunity to talk with the authors, Recess Monkey’s Jack Forman and Drew Holloway, about their inspiration for the book, and what it’s like being a part of a high-energy, highly acclaimed family rock band. Let’s dive in and see what they had to say! 


Q&A with Jack Forman and Drew Holloway of Recess Monkey

Where did your inspiration for Dive In! come from?

Jack: We met 17 years ago teaching at the same school here in Seattle and really have learned a lot about how to follow a kid’s lead. That’s translated to our albums and shows at Recess Monkey, where we’re constantly translating the things that make kids laugh into our creations. The book was a natural extension of listening to what gets kids excited!

Drew: Play and humor are important parts of our work as both teachers and musicians. Whether it’s a classroom of kids or an audience, there’s always an opportunity for a spirited back and forth. Dive In! is like that. It’s an invitation to play, laugh and participate. And there’s also a blobfish, we knew it needed a blobfish!

Tell us about the main character in this story. How did Sir Sebastian Stockingbottomham come about?

Jack: We were laughing about how Jacques Cousteau was the smoothest explorer who ever explored… and wanted to see nature through the eyes of a distant, much less qualified, relative. His name to us just screams pomp and circumstance, but maybe without ever having actually read a book about underwater life.

Drew: He definitely has never read a book about underwater life.

Is this your first book? What made you decide to write a children’s book?

Jack: It is our first book! We’ve written hundreds of narratively based songs and it’s always a challenge to squeeze an entire story into the confines of a three-minute song. We’ve long loved the process of telling stories visually in music video form, but have always wanted to explore written fiction.

Drew: Writing and performing music are Recess Monkey’s main charges but what truly drives us is being creative and trying new things. Creativity is essential, a basic need for us. The book was an opportunity to stretch ourselves.

Is there anything that surprised you during the process of creating this book?

Jack: We were excited about playing with the form of the book itself, imagining how kid readers would play with it as the book was read aloud to them.

Drew: Spoiler alert: I couldn’t believe it when the tables turned on Sir Sebastian! I didn’t see that coming.

What do you think kids and adults will enjoy most about this book?

Jack: Our biggest goal was to give the reader enough cues to become a read-aloud superstar: funny voices, silly rhythms, and a game-like quality to the story. We’ve been teaching for a long time and read-aloud is one of our favorite parts of the school day: such a fun and important way to connect with a story on the inside.

Drew: It’s hard to pick just one thing! A great cartoon has different levels for different viewers. We feel like there’s a lot going on in the story both in the words and the visuals to delight everyone who picks the book up.

How did the band get its name: Recess Monkey? 

Jack: It’s a joke, a play on the rhesus monkey.

Drew: We love the whole school day, but there’s something about recess!

Tell us about a day in the life of Recess Monkey. 

Jack: We work really hard, but balance what we do between creative time and live shows. Summertime tends to be our busiest live season, when we play the bulk of our live performances. Through the rest of the year, as the school calendar picks up, we write and record songs, make music videos, and play shows on weekends. We’re really lucky to always have exciting things on the horizon.

Drew: A Recess Monkey day can be pretty action-packed. When we’re together we try to get a lot accomplished. Playing live and interacting with families is the bulk of our work and super rewarding. It’s nice that most days we’re home for dinner with our family units.

Drew Holloway and Jack Forman

You’ve released over a dozen albums since 2005—wow! What are your favorites out of the bunch?

Jack: Altogether, it’s been 13 albums, and just over 200 songs! I’m always most excited about whatever we’re working on right now, but after an album “rests” for three years or so, I’m able to listen to it with very little memory of what the recording process was actually like. It suddenly becomes like I’m listening to another band’s album.

Drew: It’s hard to pick a favorite! They’re like our children. While they all sound like us, each record is different in a way. If pressed, I might pick Desert Island Disc, the companion to Deep Sea Diver. It has some amazing musical moments, swirling strings, and ukuleles.

What’s next for Recess Monkey?

Jack: Now that we’ve taken our most recent album Novelties to the Grammys, we’re suddenly thinking ahead to our next collection of songs.

Drew:
That’s the question we’re always asking ourselves. It just keeps getting more fun to ponder!


Want to catch Recess Monkey live? They’re performing all over Washington state this summer! Check out a list of tour dates here. You can also follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

For more details on Dive In!,* visit our website.

*Disclaimer: not suitable for quiet bedtime. Check pockets for sand after reading. May cause reader to change name to Jacques.

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The Girl Who Ran: Inspiration for Girls, Women, and Risk Takers Everywhere

It’s incredible to look back and realize that as recently as the 1960s—within living memory—women weren’t allowed to take part in official races longer than 1.5 miles and that the world believed it was impossible women could ever run the Boston Marathon. 

It was a woman named Bobbi Gibb who proved the world wrong. 

We’re honored to share Bobbi’s story in our new illustrated children’s book. The Girl Who Ran is a stunning tribute to Bobbi as well as inspiration for people of all ages to follow their dreams, no matter who is telling them “no.”

When Bobbi Gibb first saw the Boston Marathon she knew she had to be a part of it. She trained hard, but when the time came to apply, she was refused entry. They told Bobbi girls don’t run, girls can’t run. That didn’t stop her. “I knew I had to run Boston,” Bobbi says “to show what women could do.”

The odds were stacked against Bobbi. Even basic athletic clothing was hard to come by. With no women’s running shoes available, Bobbi purchased a pair designed for boys. To try and blend in at the marathon, she put on her brother’s Bermuda shorts and wore a shapeless hoodie. 

Despite her disguise, the other participants soon realized Bobbi was a woman—and they voiced their support. “We won’t let anyone throw you out,” one said to her, “it’s a free road.” The wider world may have dismissed Bobbi’s dream and her love of long-distance running, but her fellow marathon runners understood both. As the starred Kirkus review for The Girl Who Ran notes, “[Bobbi’s] story speaks to not only women’s fight for equality, but the power of community.” 

Our authors, Frances Poletti and Kristina Yee, worked alongside Bobbi to retell the story of her amazing, boundary-breaking run. They chose a strong rhythm and refrain for the book that echoes the feeling of running, and touches on the title of Bobbi’s own memoir, Wind in the Fire.

She ran further and further, and she ached and perspired,
 and the world whooshed on by, like the wind in the fire.

Our illustrator, Susanna Chapman, lives locally to Boston and attends the marathon every year to cheer on the participants. In 2016 she took her art materials along with her to sketch the runners and make studies for The Girl Who Ran

Susanna’s illustrations are bright and energetic, and beautifully capture the emotions of Bobbi’s journey as well as the fluidity of running—and the joy.

Her illustrations for the book culminate with a stunning gatefold that opens to show a wordless image of Bobbi triumphantly crossing the finish line—and making history.

In 1966, Bobbi finished the race with a time of 3:21:40, ahead of about half the men who were running. Today, more than 50 percent of runners in the USA are women, with over 12,000 running the Boston Marathon every year. And it all started with Bobbi and other pioneers like her. “…the advice I’d give to young people about shaping the future is to follow your dreams,” says Bobbi, “and do what you most passionately feel needs doing.”

We hope you will be inspired by the story of Bobbi Gibb. Of how she broke the rules. Of how her story offers an inspiring message for women and young girls today—to overcome challenges and discover what they’re made of. And of how, one step at a time, Bobbi changed the world for all of us.

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