Claudia Garcia

Claudia grew up in one of the poorest areas of northeast Houston. In high school a friend introduced her to long distance running. Although she never competed on a school team, she fell in love with exercising and racing. She estimates that over the last 25 years, she has participated in almost every fun run in the Houston area. She has fond memories of the old-school races when they gave you a piece of paper at the finish line, had you walk through your age group chute, then turn the paper in to someone who was collecting them on the other side of the chute. Claudia says she has always been fascinated by the human body and how complex it is. In college she dreamed of becoming a doctor and learning all she could about how the body functioned. But in 1992, she found herself pregnant and unsure of how she was even going to provide for her own well-being, much less her baby girl’s. Claudia is thankful for her mom who stepped in to help raise her daughter while she finished optometry school and started her career. Over time, Claudia was able to realize her dream of finishing medical school and becoming a doctor of optometry. In 2016 Claudia began learning about Houston’s struggle with human trafficking. Her heart broke as she thought about the individuals who are subjected to extreme abuse and exploitation. As she prayed about what she could do to help, she felt led to offer her services as an optometrist at no charge. Today she partners with Elijah Rising to provide free eye exams for anyone who is rescued out of trafficking. She says her work has given her a new compassion for those who have experienced more than she can ever imagine. Sometimes Claudia feels like she needs that same compassion as she juggles her career, her running, and being a single mom to 2 beautiful girls.