Sometimes, in order to really make an impact, you have to be a little…extreme. An ever-growing group of local women is scaling buildings and jumping out of planes to have just such an impact.
Extreme Moms was founded by Milwaukeean Sarah Minella as a two-pronged effort to benefit local and regional charities and to also break down gender stereotypes in the hopes of inspiring future generations. The group’s mission statement says it best:
“Extreme Moms is dedicated to inspiring moms to live to their highest potential. We believe that a strong, healthy, vital mom creates children that set goals and surpass them.”
“We want to have an influence on the community, and because moms influence children, that is the greater community for us,” says Minella.“ We want to challenge ourselves mentally, physically and spiritually, and we do that through extreme events.”
Through these events, the Moms confront “traditional” gender roles and show their children that they can be inspired by their mothers as well as their fathers.
“A lot of times, the kids look up to [their] dads and want to be like them,” says Minella. “They think, ‘my dad’s a firefighter,’ or ‘my dad’s a cop.’ But we’re trying to switch up those stereotypes, especially when it comes to gender.”
At their first event, “Over the Edge,” the Moms repelled 20 stories down the Downtown Hilton and helped raise $35,000 for the Special Olympics.
That inaugural event drew support and awareness to the cause, and has allowed the Moms to continue their work. Just over a week ago, they went airborne — literally— to raise money for Adaptive Action Sports, a non-profit that coordinates sport camps and clinics for kids and adults with physical disabilities.
Next, they’re planning a trip to Africa with “The Peace and Progress Build” to construct homes in Nigeria.
Extreme Moms have also organized less intense, but no less important, events around the city. The Moms and their children are featured in a pilot of Food Forward, a documentary about people who take over empty city lots for community gardens. They also participated a flash mob with hundreds of people, taking over Jazz in the Park this past summer.
“I tell my kids, ‘Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I can’t do this,’” says Minella. “Watch me jump out of an airplane, watch me build houses in Africa. You can do whatever you want.”