This week’s Valpo Life in the Spotlight has good timing as the running season is in full swing. Jennifer Smith Villarreal - avid runner, mother of three, and friend of many is what I like to call, “motivation in motion”.
Born in Illinois and raised in Stillwater, Mississippi, Smith Villarreal was an active and vocal child.
I was an outgoing child. I had a lot of opinions according to my mom. I was involved in sports and I was the kid who never stops talking,” Smith Villarreal said.
After she graduated from high school Smith Villarreal went to the University of Iowa where she majored in communication studies. She moved to Chicago with friends after that and obtained a job with SRO Motor Sports. This is where she met her husband, Joe.
“He was one of the drivers on our circuit,” Smith Villarreal said. “We dated for a few years, then I moved to Highland then we got engaged.”
The couple came to Valparaiso to raise their family. Joe had a great love for the city and he knew that was where he wanted to live.
“We love the community and we love how active it is,” Smith Villarreal said. “We love the school system and how close it is to Chicago.”
Smith Villarreal works double duty as a contractor for EDF Trading and an employee at Extra Mile Fitness Company.
“I’ve been running for over 17 years. I did my first marathon in 2001 and since then I’ve run five marathons,” Smith Villarreal said. “[Extra Mile] is a great place to work… It’s a great store with a great vibe; a family atmosphere with repeat customers. I feel extremely lucky to be able to talk about and do what I love every day. If you get to work at your passion you should consider yourself lucky.
Smith Villarreal especially loves to work with new runners, helping them achieve their fitness goals whether it’s to complete a 5k for the first time or to help them find the right pair of shoes.
Smith Villarreal is the proud mother of three boys ages 14, 11, and 9; all of whom go to Valpo schools. She is active in the Hayes Leonard PTO, Kidsworks LLC, and the Opportunity Enterprises Runners Team. She loves to spend time with her family, read, cook, and find any excuse to be outside.
Photo credit: Forever October Photography