Being a runner takes dedication. It means getting up and out on a Saturday morning when it would be easier to stay in bed. Jana Dvorsky runs because she’s dedicated. But more importantly, she runs for others.
Her running career began in 2015 when she participated in a half-marathon on behalf of a friend who passed away from leukemia.
“I was motivated to run for her,” Dvorsky said.
She has continued to run for someone else through her participation in I Run 4 Michael, a nonprofit organization launched in 2013 that matches runners with people who can’t run. Runners might be paired with a child or an adult, perhaps someone with Down syndrome or a congenital disorder or with a veteran who has been wounded in combat. Currently, there are 4,000 runners on the waiting list. Dvorsky runs for a ninth-grader named RyLee, who was born with a rare eye condition.
When she’s not racking up the miles, Dvorsky balances her time between being a wife and a mother of two girls — Emerson, 3, and Caroline, 4 months. She works as a marketing specialist for Glass Doctor, one of the 17 franchise organizations owned by the Dwyer Group. Dvorsky attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, where she earned a degree in mass communication and public relations with a minor in graphic design.
Wacoan writer Megan Willome spoke with Dvorsky by phone to talk about the importance of family, charitable running and letting go of the idea of a perfectly clean home.
WACOAN: How did you get to Waco?
Dvorsky: I was born and raised here. I went to China Spring [ISD], then to Reicher [Catholic High School], graduated in 2007. Then I went to UMHB for college, graduated in 2011.
WACOAN: Where did you meet your husband?
Dvorsky: My husband and I actually met in high school, at Reicher. We were good friends in high school and reconnected right before I graduated [college].
WACOAN: What year did you transfer to Reicher?
Dvorsky: I moved to Reicher my junior year. We liked the small class size at Reicher. I met him – his name is Joseph – at Reicher. He was born and raised here. His mom works at St. Louis [Catholic School] – my 3-year-old goes there.
WACOAN: And do you go to church there?
Dvorsky: At St. Louis. We’ve been going there since we got married in 2012.
WACOAN: Tell me about your husband.
Dvorsky: My husband went to [McLennan Community College] to play baseball, graduated, then played at Texas State University. He was drafted as a right-handed pitcher by the Chicago White Sox. What brought us back to Waco was he was gone playing baseball in the minors, and I wanted to be close to family while he was gone.
WACOAN: Is he still playing?
Dvorsky: He retired. He was drafted in 2011, retired in 2014, right before we had our first daughter.
WACOAN: What does he do now?
Dvorsky: He’s the director of service development at Waco Transit. He’s been there since August 2014.
WACOAN: Normally, I’d ask if you have any family in town, but you’ve already told me that you do – lots of family.
Dvorsky: We pretty much have everyone in town, except my brother lives in Belton. My mom and dad are here and [Joseph’s] family – all four grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Being a working mom, how to keep balance, it takes a village. We have such a wonderful village to help us with both our girls. My mom, his mom – they’re all wonderful. That’s my biggest way I’m able to be a full-time working mom. You’ve gotta have help. That’s a big piece of why we’re both able to be working parents. Things come up, kids get sick, you have work-related things. My mother-in-law works at St. Louis, where my 3-year-old goes, and she’s a wonderful help with her, to pick her up if I can’t get there on time.
WACOAN: Tell me about your work. When did you start at Dwyer Group?
Dvorsky: I started last November 2016. I am a local marketing specialist, so I work with all U.S. franchisees, about 220 locations. I help with all the local marketing leads – creating marketing budgets, marketing tactics (radio, TV, social media), keeping up the brand standards, making sure anything they are using is what Glass Doctor requires.
WACOAN: How did you land at Dwyer Group?
Dvorsky: After college I worked in Bryan-College Station at their news station, KBTX, the CBS affiliate, as their internet director. I wanted to be back in Waco since my husband was gone a lot.
I got a job at Capstone Mechanical and stayed for 4 1/2 years. Then an opening came at Dwyer Group, and I prayed about it, as a working mom.
I actually had met Dina’s daughter when I went to Reicher. [Editor’s note: Dina Dwyer-Owens, daughter of founder Don Dwyer, served as CEO for 20 years until 2015, when she became co-chair of the board of directors.] I love their code of values and their mission statement, so I jumped at the opportunity to see if it was meant to be, and it was. I was just thankful to find a position there. I love my job. It’s something different every single day.
WACOAN: What did you do when you worked for Capstone Mechanical?
Dvorsky: I helped with marketing. Since they’re a contracting business, they do a lot of bidding. [My role] was more brand awareness. We wanted to make sure we had a good presence in the community.
Now with Dwyer it’s more [about] getting those customers to make the call to action, to call our franchisees to do business. It’s kind of the flip side.
WACOAN: Let’s talk about your kids. You have two girls, right? What are their ages?
Dvorsky: Emerson is 3. Caroline is 4 months old.
WACOAN: On your Facebook page there is a gorgeous photo of you late in your pregnancy with Caroline. Who took that photo?
Dvorsky: Sarah Thompson with Simple Wish Photography. She has done all of our family pictures from when I was expecting Emerson to every six months to one year after that. That [photo] was out at Waco Wetlands in September, so a lot of bugs. It’s beautiful out there. You never know what Texas will be like in September.
WACOAN: You’ve said Emerson is at St. Louis. Where does Caroline go while you’re at work?
Dvorsky: She goes to in-home day care in Hewitt, the same place Emerson went until she could go to St. Louis. They’re another set of grandparents to both the girls. That takes the stress off me about worrying about how she is all day because she’s in great hands. It’s hard to find infant day care in Waco. You have to do a lot of research and make a lot of connections.
WACOAN: Do you have after-school care for Emerson?
Dvorsky: St. Louis does have after-school care until 5:30 [p.m.]. Between that and my mother-in-law, it just depends.
My mom works. She was in schools 20 years as a speech pathologist. She works for Care Options [For Kids], so she can independently rearrange her schedule to help also.
WACOAN: You’ve said you go to St. Louis Catholic Church. Are you able to be very involved there, or at this stage is your life more about taking care of little ones?
Dvorsky: Mostly taking care of little ones. Since we have family here, that’s how we spend our weekends – seeing his family and my family. I have two nieces and a nephew, and one is the same age as Emerson. Summers are spent at my parents’ pool.
I’m also a runner. I’m getting back into it after Caroline. My brother, Brent, and I usually run on Saturday mornings. He comes up from Belton.
When I was pregnant with Caroline, Emerson and I spent the weekends running [and ending at] a park.
WACOAN: I assume you have a jogging stroller.
Dvorsky: I pushed Emerson my whole pregnancy, then I got a double and have only done it a handful of times. That’s a challenge!
I ran so much while I was pregnant – I say I ran, but I ran-walked. I wasn’t fast. I just was going. [Emerson] loves the movement of it. I’m sure as Emerson gets older, she’ll be riding a bike or a scooter next to [Caroline, in the stroller].
WACOAN: Where do you run?
Dvorsky: We have a park right in our neighborhood. I’d run for 15-20 minutes to the park, then let her play – give her a break to stretch her legs – then run 15-20 minutes around the neighborhood to finish up.
It was time away from TV and electronics, us outside, enjoying it even if it was hot. She loved it. She’s 3, so 3-year-olds can be challenging, but that’s the one time you can bet she’ll be in a good mood. Hopefully, Caroline will be the same way.
WACOAN: When did you start running? I saw that you’ve done the Miracle Match Marathon.
Dvorsky: That was my first half-marathon in 2015. I started running four months after I had Emerson. Miracle Match was my first one because I had a friend who passed away from leukemia in 2014. I started to train when my friend passed away.
I love that race. You can become a [marrow] donor that weekend. All the proceeds go for Be the Match.
WACOAN: I’m familiar with the organization. I have a family member who received a transplant.
Dvorsky: [My friend] also received a transplant, and it gave her an extra year of life – just priceless. Last year I ran the 5K and the half-marathon. This year I only did the 5K, since I’d literally just had Caroline. I’ll be out there again next year.
WACOAN: The different lengths of races are on different days, right?
Dvorsky: The 5K and 1-mile for kids is on Saturday, then the 10K, half and full and an ultramarathon are on Sunday.
We bring both kids out there. It’s a fun family weekend. They have bounce houses and food, and it’s downtown. They always have great weather. This year in the 5K we got rained on, but Sunday was sunshine and perfect weather. I ran it last year and it was sunny but real windy, but I was in shorts, so it was doable. Every year it always lucks out.
WACOAN: Do you plan to do the full marathon at some point?
Dvorsky: My brother did the full marathon this year, so I’ll see if maybe he’ll do it with me next year. I’ve done one full marathon. We’ve run seven or eight half-marathons together. He’s nine years older than me.
Honestly, what we would do is Saturday morning run from downtown to Cameron Park or from downtown to Baylor and back, then to Torchy’s Tacos [to eat] after that. Now that I’m training for a half-marathon in April, my brother and I will hopefully be able to get back to our Saturday morning runs a couple times a month.
WACOAN: So you’ve already started running again, since having Caroline?
Dvorsky: I’m getting back in the groove. I started running around December. Since October-November of 2014, it’s been every Saturday or Sunday morning. It’s my me-time. Or me-time with Emerson.
I just love being able to do it. I know it’s crazy to run for fun. There’s a group called I Run 4 Michael – everyone’s matched up with a buddy who can’t run. Mine, his name’s RyLee, in California. I dedicate all my miles to him. RyLee is in ninth grade now. We were matched as buddies in January 2015. He was born with a rare eye condition where his eye muscles aren’t connected to his eyes, so he was completely blind at birth. At age 2 1/2 they did an eye muscle transplant, and he has some vision in his right eye but none in his left and zero depth perception.
There’s a Facebook group for all those who are matched with buddies and where I post pictures after my run. We talk there, and his mom and I also text to keep in touch.
It’s nice to not take your health for granted, to be able to use your body for that reason.
WACOAN: How did you hear about the group?
Dvorsky: A couple of my friends on Facebook are in there, and I’d seen them post for their buddies. There’s a long waitlist, but it’s worth it. You can build a relationship with someone, even someone across the country. I send him my medals and bibs. Usually people will post with the hashtag #IRun4 and then the name.
I like setting a good example for my girls of staying healthy. A lot of people want to lose the baby weight, but I just want to do it to be healthy. That’s what motivates me on the days I don’t want to. Emerson too – we usually pretend she’s working out at some point. It’s fun to see her repeat that.
WACOAN: It sounds like your free time is mainly centered around family. If you’re not at someone’s house, what are some of your favorite spots in Waco?
Dvorsky: We love the zoo! My mom usually give us, at Christmas, a family membership to the zoo. We’ve been going since we had Emerson. Me and my brother will go – our kids, their kids. Every time they go, [the kids] feel like it’s their first time.
WACOAN: Any other restaurants you like, besides Torchy’s?
Dvorsky: Casa de Castillo. [The owners] are our close family friends, so that’s another place we love to go.
We’re hoping in the next couple months to take Emerson to Cameron Park.
WACOAN: What tips do you have for working moms?
Dvorsky: Whenever someone called about this interview, I was doing dishes on my lunch break. I’m just learning that not everything is important. You don’t have to have a perfectly clean house. It’s the balance of prioritizing. Obviously for me, it’s getting the basics done, kids bathed and happy. I do a lot of dishes and laundry late at night after they go to sleep. I’m learning that not everything has to be picked up and perfect – it all can wait. They’re only little for so long. Learning to enjoy them is my first priority.
For moms, a lot of moms will feel mom guilt, but giving yourself a lot of grace that you’re doing a great job, your kids are happy. Every mom goes through it as they go back to work. If you love your job and you feel good about where your kids are at, just keep that at the forefront.
As a mom you learn to multitask. I’m always doing two to three things at one time. And then having two kids, my husband and I kind of tag-team – you do dishes, I’ll do the bath or vice versa.
WACOAN: Say some more about how you tag-team.
Dvorsky: He takes Emerson to school and I drop off Caroline at day care, then we try to meet for lunch in Downtown Waco or meet at home and eat lunch together. Most days I pick the girls up, and then we are both home by 5:30 [p.m.] to either take the girls to the park – or Joseph will stay home with Caroline and I will take Emerson to the park – or go outside and play, then cook dinner and get the girls ready for bed. Usually after they go to bed is when I clean up the house, do laundry, work out, or Joseph and I catch up on a show we’re watching.
WACOAN: We’ve already talked a bit about how you keep balance. It sounds like having family around really helps.
Dvorsky: Having family to help, having good day care.
Both places I’ve worked since having my girls, Capstone and Dwyer, were family-friendly. The work-life balance was also a priority. Most everyone at Dwyer is parents. Some are younger, just married, but the marketing department is moms and dads, so they all get it. Things come up and just knowing your work is flexible helps. They’ve been there, they understand. It’s a lifesaver.