Harlem runner to be honored at benefit

Harlem native and avid runner, Alison Désir, gained a spotlight for her politcally-charged run from Harlem to the nation’s capital to raise money for Planned Parenthood. She will be honored with the Trailblazer of the Year award at the Harlem Haberdashery masquerade in March.
Da Ping Luo

The 4th annual Harlem Haberdashery Masquerade Benefit Ball is honoring Harlem native Alison Desir with their Trailblazer of the Year Award on March 4. Desir made international headlines for her standout run to raise money for Planned Parenthood, in protest of President Trump’s election win.

Her successful campaign to run from Harlem to Washington D.C. led to her raising more than her $44,000 goal and organizers of the annual benefit say they knew immediately they would be celebrating Desir and her influential mission.

“Our goal is to highlight the community and the people doing good things, and we probably knew right from beginning it was destined for her,” said Sharene Wood, founder of Harlem Haberdashery. “Initially it blew more than she anticipated and timing and climax of events really helped her initiative.

And when Desir learned she was going to be a recipient of the Trailblazer of the Year Award, Wood said she was surprised because she still showed her enthusiasm over the popularity of her campaign.

“She was very excited — I don’t think she knew of the impact of Harlem Run,” said Wood. “I really don’t think she knew what impact it would create and I don’t think she realized that.”

Desir, along with three other honoree, will be awarded at the ceremony, and she said she was more than thrilled to learn of her upcoming honor.

“It was completely unexpected and I feel so grateful to be honored in this way,” said Desir. “Harlem Haberdashery has been like a second family to me and we have similar shared interests in the community and love for Harlem — for them to recognize me — I can’t wait to see the honor.”

Her run to D.C. inspired dozens of solidarity runs across the country, even in South Korea and United Kingdom. She still expresses amazement at the support she gained for her campaign, along with the growth and interest of Harlem Run, the collective fitness organization she founded in 2013.

“It was extremely rewarding and unexpected — I felt a whole mixture of emotions and it showed me the power of ideas,” said Desir. “It let me know when you get the feeling to get creative with activism — whatever you do, big or small, can have a deeper impact.”

“Harlem Haberdashery Masquerade Ball” at Mural Pavilion at Harlem Hospital Center [506 Lenox Avenue between W. 135th and 137th streets in Harlem, www.harlemhaberdashery.com, (646)707-0070. March 4 at 8 pm. $150.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.

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