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Global maternal health advocate Christy Turlington Burns founded Every Mother Counts—an organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every woman—after experiencing a postpartum hemorrhage following the birth of her daughter. “I realized that women die from the same complication here in the US and abroad,” she says.

What started as a small nonprofit seven years ago has evolved into a thriving organization supporting 11 programs in eight countries that educate and train skilled birth attendants, offer transportation for women to access care, and provide supplies to birth centers.

Working on the ground and understanding the issues firsthand has always been important to Turlington Burns, who initially traveled throughout South and Central America, visiting countries with high maternal mortality rates, before launching EMC. This summer, the former model will lead a group to Guatemala and meet with local partners, such as a midwives association.  
Another key component of EMC is its grassroots network of marathoners who raise funds by participating in races around the world (they even have their own Instagram). Once a casual runner, Turlington Burns started signing up for marathons a few years ago and inviting her friends to join.
[A group of EMC supporters in Tanzania huddle for a group shot after completing the Kilimanjaro half-marathon and 5K.]

On a recent visit to Tanzania, one of the countries in which EMC also works, the group of women included accessories designerClare Vivierof Clare V., who creates tote bags and small pieces for the NGO, with all net proceeds going to the cause.

Running together is truly symbolic for Turlington Burns. “Childbirth is an endurance sport,” she explains, “and those cycles of joy, pain, and fear are all represented in marathons.”