No Shortcuts on Drive to the Finish Line
There is no secret formula of success that Taylor Thornton uncovered in some magical book. At 31-years-old, her accomplishments are a model for others to follow. Taylor’s winning attitude has fueled her achievements in school, jobs, and volunteer work. She is a two-time National Lacrosse Champion at Northwestern University and was inducted into Northwestern University 2018 Hall of Fame. She is also one of the top fundraisers in Chicago for the Mercy Home Heroes.
Taylor’s impeccable drive to help her team win, and to be her best self, ultimately makes people around her better.
So, how does she turn drive into accomplishment?
“Always accept the challenge, and I think that’s where you find opportunity for growth and development,” she said. “You’re going to fail but learning from those failures and getting up again [is the key]. A lot of things may seem tough in the moment, but if you show up and remain consistent, things that you thought were impossible become possible.”
Taylor’s love for playing sports and her competitive drive blossomed during her childhood in Dallas, Texas. Growing up, she was naturally athletic and played basketball, soccer, tennis, and lacrosse. Eventually, she decided to focus on lacrosse.
At the same time, a desire to be a positive role model in her community stirred inside of her.
Taylor was fortunate to have a family that exposed her to different opportunities that many did not have. At an early age, her parents taught her to be grateful for every opportunity.
“I had parents who provided an immense perspective on life. To be grateful in any opportunity you have, to help or to be empathetic for something, or to change a life, to absolutely do it…” she said. “That’s something I take really seriously, of just creating those opportunities for people or helping in any way I can.”
Even as a teenager, Taylor wanted to be an agent of change, so she joined her community service board that helps different groups and foundations receive equitable access to opportunities and resources.
After high school, Taylor committed to Northwestern University to play lacrosse from 2010-2013.
She had an outstanding career at Northwestern. In addition to winning two national championships and being named a four-time All-American, she was one of five female finalists for the Sports Illustrated College Athlete of the Year award. In her last season, her longtime friend from Dallas, Maggie Fobare, teamed up with Taylor on the women’s lacrosse team.
Maggie and Taylor both attended The Hockaday School. Growing up, the two played sports together and their families knew each other.
After she graduated from Northwestern University, Taylor worked in Los Angeles and New York City while Maggie remained in Chicago to start her advertising career at Starcom.
Now that Taylor was no longer a full-time student-athlete, she wanted to train for something that could challenge her. She thought about running the 2020 New York City Marathon, but Covid put her plans on hold.
Missing Chicago’s Midwestern charm, she moved back to her second home where she was reunited with her childhood friend Maggie, who by then had become a Mercy Home Hero. (read Maggie’s story here).
Maggie told Taylor about Mercy Home’s mission and suggested that she run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on its behalf. Taylor instantly recognized this was something bigger than herself. She signed up to be a Mercy Home Hero right away.
“This is my first ever [marathon, and I’m] really going out there fundraising on my own,” she said.
Taylor has crushed her initial fundraising goal of $1,250. Currently, she is projected to raise over $10,000 by October. Taylor stays on track by setting fundraising goals that she can achieve, beating them, and then striving higher.
When it comes to interacting with potential supporters, her approach is simple. She is authentic and personable when asking for donations.
“I really wanted to think about it and tell my story to each person and individual connection that I had. I didn’t want to send out a mass email to people that wasn’t personalized,” she said.
Having meaningful interactions and authentic connections is important to Taylor. She has supported people in her network throughout her life, and they have supported her.
“You have to show up for people. I’ve done a really good job in my life being there for people, supporting them, showing up when I say I’m going to, and I think that has really resonated with folks,” she said. “My biggest piece was to make things super personalized and authentic,” she said. “These first people that have really shown up are people that are deep within my network who I have real connections with, who are super supportive across many aspects of my life.”
By giving her best effort, she wants to make sure the kids at Mercy Home can receive all they need to prosper in life.
“I want to make sure these kids get everything and more that they need,” she said. The perseverance, determination, and strength they have in [the face of difficult situations and the way] they come out the other side is so commendable and beyond anything I could ever imagine. I work hard for that, I train for that, to provide and give back in ways that I didn’t know or see possible.”
Scores of people will be there on the route, including those who gather along the Mercy Mile, watching and cheering for Taylor and her fellow marathon runners this fall. Just as she has shown up for her family, friends, and coworkers, Mercy Home will do the same until she crosses the finish line.