Meet Heidi Warner
Each one of us has a unique story and experience to share with the world. This outlook on life is the driving motivation that brought Heidi Warner, 4-year Dressember advocate, to travel across the rural communities of Peru to the mountain peaks of Colorado. Using her passion for helping others, Heidi has worked for organizations such as Disney World and the Peace Corps, and now resides in Denver, Colorado where she uses her knowledge in healthcare marketing to be part of the larger narrative of impacting others’ lives.
It takes only a split second getting to know Heidi, and her energy and determination become completely contagious. Her zeal for setting and exceeding goals is what makes her a powerhouse for helping others. She’s the girl that sets a personal goal to run just one marathon by the age of 30, but somehow is currently training for her ninth one in London. She’s also the girl that once dreamt of visiting each Olympic site, so she mapped out her upcoming races to run the sites in chronological order – fulfilling two goals side-by-side.
Goal-getter. Dream chaser. Powerhouse. Talk to Heidi, and those are the words that stick. It isn’t any surprise that these same attributes, coupled with her heart for others, is what makes her a force to be reckoned with in the fight against human trafficking.
In 2013, Heidi learned about Dressember through a friend in the Peace Corps. Always up for a good challenge, Heidi couldn’t resist the urge to join the movement. Much like her approach to marathon running, Heidi set her fundraising goal at $100, with the idea of completing the challenge only once. By the end of the campaign, though, Heidi brought in 10 times her goal and couldn’t shake the desire to keep participating.
“I not only rediscovered my love of dresses, it also sparked the passion to be able to creatively encourage others to care about a cause they may not know about.”
Four years later, and Heidi is still finding ways to challenge herself through Dressember, with creative fundraising and outside-the-box approaches to raising awareness.
Though her first year of campaigning started with selfies in dresses, Heidi quickly changed her social media strategy in order to grab attention and cause people to stop and read.
Her first show-stopper? Planking in a dress.
“It created more interest amongst my friends and family and I decided to capitalize on that and researched different internet fads and memes, and recreated them in my own way. I even poured milk over my head downtown…there was a fad apparently, called milking.”
Each seemingly outrageous picture or video, paired up with an eye-opening statistic on human trafficking served two purposes: get people to read and encourage others to act. Not surprisingly, Heidi’s internal challenge worked, and each time brought in more funds for Dressember.
“Every year, I think ‘How can I make this bigger and more interesting and compelling than last year?’ It has worked too, as I have friends who think of me and Dressember when they hear about human trafficking.”
Heidi is a great example that there are numerous ways to participate in Dressember, and everyone’s story and voice can have a ripple effect.
“I use Dressember to think about how I can make a difference in something. There is no red tape to cut through. There is no right or wrong way to do Dressember. I can be quirky, and I embraced my quirkiness to make it my own.”
Heidi also recognizes the team aspect of Dressember offers a foundation for an even bigger impact and creativity.
“What I like so much about Dressember is the sense of community. It is such a solo challenge, yet it is so intertwined with others.”
Last year, Heidi created a Facebook group for her team, helping to connect members and foster an environment of encouragement and collaboration. The group shared stats, ideas and cheered each other on.
This type of team leadership derives from Heidi’s belief that each person can do something.
“We have a duty to help our fellow man, in whatever capacity we can. One of my favorite quotes is by Helen Keller, which says,
‘I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.' "
Every person has a story, and Heidi’s legacy in Dressember is evidence that creativity, combined with determination and even a dash of quirkiness can all be catalysts for good.
“You just never know where your creativity will take you and what kind of impact you can have if you try.”
About the Author
Michaela Judge is a military veteran and Southern transplant. As a Public Relations specialist by day, she is overjoyed to use her love of writing to help fight for freedom and justice through Dressember! Her favorite moments are spent with her husband, Phil, and daughter, Ellie, adventuring in Charleston, South Carolina, and spreading hospitality .