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Women Share Stories of Overcoming Hardships in Hopes to Inspire Others

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This year, 81 women participated in the contest This year, 81 women participated in the contest
Bellamy Shnoffer took home second place Bellamy Shnoffer took home second place
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

Dozens of women are sharing personal stories of overcoming adversity in the hopes of showing others that change is possible.

One woman who shared her story on Wednesday, April 18, talked about how she turned her passion for social change into a business following last summer’s violent events.

The Women's Initiative honored winners of the Challenge into Change essay contest at Carver Recreation Center Wednesday evening. The 2017 writing contest provided a platform for women overcoming a personal struggle.

Wednesday night, women raised their voices with hopes that others would follow suit.

Everyone has a story to share, whether it’s in a journal or on the pages of a book. But not everyone shares their tale out loud. However, that's exactly what the Women’s Initiative is encouraging people to do with its annual writing contest.

On Wednesday, contest winners shared their stories about overcoming hardship.

“Physically, there were a lot of things I couldn't do,” says Bellamy Shoffner, one of the winners. “I didn't know why I couldn't do them and I have two small children - it was really difficult.”

Shoffner’s essay took home second place, in which she discussed being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 32.

“In my essay, I talked about people telling me that my husband would leave me and all sorts of things that were just horrible to hear,” says Shoffner. “I didn't think I could work anymore.”

After having to leave many jobs because of relapses, she decided to start her own business - an online magazine called "Hold the Line," which focuses on both social justice and parenthood.

“Especially after August 11 and 12, I decided that I was going to do more in the realm of social justice and parenthood,” says Shoffner.

She hopes her story can show others that you can still achieve your goals, even with a diagnosis like hers.

“Just hope and don't listen to the negativity,” says Shoffner. “I really had to figure out exactly what I wanted to do, and who I wanted to be really to make sure I was making the most of whatever years I have left."

Eighty-one women participated in this year’s contest, and the essays will be put into a book.

If you would like counseling services, the Women's Initiative offers pay-what-you-can walk-in clinics three days a week.

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