My parents instilled in me a love for sports and fitness. My father was a high school physical education teacher and head coach of the high school basketball and golf teams. My parents showed me that exercise and fitness are so much fun, especially when you are with the people you love.
I played several sports in high school and took up running about the same time. I met my husband, Chris, during one summer at the Jersey shore and we ran together along the Spring Lake boardwalk every weekend.
Johnson & Johnson has always been an advocate for integrating work, life, health and fitness. It’s one of the many reasons why I love working here. The values that J&J holds dear and lives by are exactly the same as mine. So, it is no surprise that I have passed these values on to my own family.
Our family consists of three active children, two working parents and one huge Bernese Mountain dog. It is extremely difficult to make fitness a priority unless every member is on board. My husband and I started running the Spring Lake 5 (SL5) mile run together right after we met. The SL5 was already a family tradition for his family. It’s a special event because it’s the largest five- mile race in the U.S. (almost 12,000 runners), and it signifies the start of summer on Memorial Day Weekend.
Running the race together for 20 years, Chris and I decided that we would carry on the tradition this year with our three children, Kelsey (age 15), Justin (age 13) and Will (age 9). We were very nervous about our youngest, Will. He had NEVER run farther than the length of our driveway and didn’t really enjoy running. But we took the chance and signed him up any way
One week before the run, Will finally took an interest and starting running with us. He ran one mile. The night before the race, I actually tried to talk him out of running. Five miles is A LOT longer than one mile and the race is so intense with a crowded field. BUT, Will was determined and if the family was going to do it, then so was he!!!
I ran with our two older children, and my husband ran with Will. Justin, Kelsey and I all finished with personal best times and we waited anxiously for Will and Chris. As they crossed the finish line together with arms raised, I had tears in my eyes. I ran to hug Will and screamed, “You did it!!!” He replied, “I told you I could run the whole thing.” Chris said Will never stopped running, even when he thought he couldn’t go any further.
I was so proud of my family that day, not only for doing something new, but for believing in themselves and never giving up. Since that race, Chris and I have started participating in triathlons to continue to challenge ourselves and show our children that you can set new goals, no matter how old you are. It is these little life lessons that I hope my children take with them when they build their own families.
Jennifer Hirsch has been with J&J for 22 years in various roles across Finance, Operations, Project and Portfolio Management. In Jennifer’s current role at Janssen, she is the Director of Strategy and Innovation within the Project Management Organization.