World-Record-Holding Alumna's Nonprofit Empowers Women Through Sports

Abigail Forget '19SPS
February 08, 2019

Holding the record as the first woman to complete six IRONMANs on six continents in a year, it’s tough to imagine Jackie Faye ’15JRN outdoing herself with an even more inspiring feat—but she has.

The Kabul, Afghanistan-based journalist has capitalized on her athletic talents and combined her passion for helping others through the founding of She Can Tri, a non-profit organization that supports and empowers women across the globe through sports.

Faye is currently training four women who are set to be Afghanistan’s first female triathletes. The women are on track to complete an IRONMAN 70.3 of their own in the next year, with the hopes of qualifying for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in New Zealand in 2020.

Faye took applications through Free to Run, an organization with a similar mission to empower women in conflict areas through running. Through her volunteer work with the organization while training for her own IRONMANs while working in Afghanistan, she was able to witness applicants’ dedication to achieving their athletic goals, and select four determined, strong young women. She has been blogging about the group’s inspiring training thus far.

Faye dreamed about founding She Can Tri for years and decided to take the plunge and go for it in early 2017, despite having limited funds.

“I wanted to travel the world and do IRONMANs and start a non-profit to advocate for women,” she told The Low Down. “I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I just went out and did it.”

The stars began to align for Faye, who received a work opportunity in Kabul that allowed her to maintain her journalism career with the flexibility to race across the globe and write her business plan simultaneously.  

After some soul-searching, Faye honed her organization’s focus to be about empowering women through a passion she knew best: sports.

“Sports are why I have always been so strong,” she said. “Triathlons are male-dominated, and in IRONMAN competitions, only 20 percent are women. I thought if I could help Afghan women compete in triathlons, it would empower them.”

While Faye wants to inspire women worldwide to compete, she has always felt a personal connection to female athletes in Afghanistan, who often struggle to find money, resources, and safe spaces to train.

“Going for a run is dangerous, going for a bike ride is dangerous,” she told The Low Down. “With these women, it’s not just about doing something for yourself, it’s about fighting for basic, basic equality.”

Faye hopes people all over the world will be inspired to work with She Can Tri. Any woman can become a She Can TriAthlete and sign up to help fundraise during their own respective races, and anyone can support the organization through donations or corporate sponsorships.

“It’s a beautiful thing if women in developed countries do sports while empowering women in underprivileged countries to also compete on and off the playing field,” Faye said.  

As for other alumni looking to take a risk like Faye, she encourages her fellow Columbians to go all in on their dreams.

“As soon as I started putting all of my energy into what I wanted to do, everything fell into place,” she said.  

Learn how you can support or get involved with She Can Tri.

Photos courtesy of She Can Tri.