By Kevin Haas
Rockford Register Star
Terri Odell does not want poverty to stand in the way of healthy living.
The Rockford native has blended her passion for fitness and helping people in need by volunteering with Annie’s Locker, a nonprofit that provides proper fitness gear to the less fortunate. Odell, vice president of operations, has spearheaded some of the organization’s biggest efforts, helping hundreds of Rockford School District students get the shoes they need to participate in gym class and bringing a fitness center to the Rockford Rescue Mission.
Annie’s Locker wouldn’t be what it is today without her, founder Carol Bingley says. Odell brought the nonprofit to a “whole new level” after joining in 2009, a year after Annie’s Locker was born. “She really has brought Annie’s Locker to a level that we could not have done without her. With Terri’s assistance we really kicked it up a notch. A lot of notches.”
Odell’s first major initiative with Annie’s Locker was to provide fitness equipment to women and men going through recovery programs at the Rockford Rescue Mission. She had started helping women with fitness instruction and training. Later, Annie’s Locker raised money to provide treadmills, stationary bikes and other exercise equipment to the mission. Today the equipment is used by men and women going through the nine- to 12-month life recovery program.
“Fitness is huge when you’re in recovery,” Odell says. “You have to feel like you’re working your body to a point where it’s getting stronger not only mentally, but physically.”
Last year, Annie’s Locker set out to help hundreds of Rockford students who don’t have proper footwear because of poverty or homelessness. The district modifies class for students without proper footwear because of safety, meaning that they can’t always participate in the same activities as the rest of the class. The Share A Pair campaign was able to collect more than 900 pairs of shoes for needy elementary school students.
Odell owns Fitnessworks Inc., a training and fitness club in Rockford that focuses on health and longevity. She and husband Mike have two sons. Annie’s Locker kicks off its next Share A Pair fundraiser in July at Lucha Cantina.