One Smart Cookie

Jen Anderson bakes her way to bike safety
 By Emma Whitford

Lifelong Madisonian Jen Anderson is an Ironman finisher and longtime athlete. She understands that safety is an integral part of anyone’s outdoor training regimen and that includes drivers sharing the road with bicyclists. To foster a friendly relationship between cyclists and drivers, Anderson founded The Cookie Project, a nonprofit that delivers cookies to homes on frequently used bike courses. Since the first cookie delivery in 2013, the project’s gone national, with more than 40,000 cookies exchanged between baking bikers and the drivers who watch out for them.

What motivated you to compete in the Ironman? My motivation came from not having any good reason why I couldn’t compete. For me, it was all about the “why not?” I was a healthy 27-year-old female with a strong body, so let’s see what I can do.

When competing, what is your personal goal? My goals have definitely matured and varied as I’ve become a more seasoned triathlete. At first, it was all about finishing. Then, it was all about getting faster. Now, after doing a couple Ironmans and several half Ironmans, I’ve learned that the reward isn’t in the finish or how fast you go. My goals have evolved from being time- focused to being process-focused and it dramatically has changed the way I enjoy the sport.

What aren’t you allowed to eat during training? Properly fueling the body is critical to performing at a high level. However, I can’t say that I have any specific restrictions that I completely adhere to 100 percent. Alcohol and processed food will absolutely have a negative impact on how my body performs, so eating healthy, good food—and lots of it—is crucial to having success on the race course.

What inspired you to start The Cookie Project? I was the recipient of a goodwill gesture from a driver while I was out riding my bike. The driver waited patiently until I reached the top of a hill to safely pass. I blurted out loud to my training partners, “I wish I could do something nice, like bake them all cookies or something,” and that’s how The Cookie Project was born.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting The Cookie Project off the ground? The biggest challenge was financial resources and recruiting bakers. I personally absorbed the costs of the entire first year for labels, bags, gas to deliver, etc. Now we do fundraising efforts and have the support that we need to continue. That first year was absolutely money well spent and I wouldn’t change a thing.

If you could give one piece of advice to other women looking to start a nonprofit, what would it be? Reflect in your work who you are in your heart. Leading from within, trusting your passion, and focusing energy into what lights you up will always lead you to success. Surround yourself with only those that support you and waste no time on anything else.

Don’t miss BRAVA’s stories on other amazing female entrepreneurs in our August edition and online.


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