Most of us have thought of running a marathon or a race, but very few of us have actually ran one, let alone finish in top positions among hundreds of other runners.

Yasmin Ali Dharamsi, of Parkland, FL, recently completed a five-kilometer (5K) run, finishing third. There were 500 participants in this Parkland Dash. Yasmin even received accolades from Parkland’s Mayor, Christine Hunschofsky. 

Yasmin, born in Karachi, Pakistan, raised in Chicago, is a devoted runner and a true inspiration to many. Even though she has a very busy life, working for UnitedHealth Group in Mergers & Acquisitions, and traveling over 100,000 miles a year, she has made a conscious decision to integrate fitness in her life to enhance her well-being. She musters enough vigor and wakes up at 4:45 a.m. each morning to run. In addition, she uses her running experience to give back to the larger community by coaching a children’s run team on the weekends. This has inspired her eight-year-old daughter, Maya, to run as well, and achieve first place at the Coral Springs September 11 Remembrance 5K run.

Yasmin’s challenge of waking up so early in the morning to run has been overcome by the plethora of benefits gained from running. The first is the physiological benefits of running and exercising. “As much as I travel, I have a lot more energy for the day. My head is clearer,” says Yasmin. She adds that if others take up running, it would help them develop mental fitness, train their minds, and embrace discipline.

The second reason is more profound. Being an active member of the Parkland running team has provided Yasmin with a platform to represent our Ismaili community and network with people of other faiths. By being part of a group, and participating in community events, Yasmin is truly an ambassador for the Jamat, especially women. Her message is simple but powerful, “Don’t limit yourself. Especially young women.” She uses the analogy of “keep going with running” just as we do with anything else in life.

Yasmin teaches all of us something rather important: by being a constructive and motivating member of the community, and focusing on our health, we not only can live healthier, more focused lives but can also be positive role models in the larger community.