Brenda, Leah, and Hadley

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Brenda Morris passed down more than just genetics to her daughter, Leah Golden – she also passed down a love of running. While a student at Chattanooga Christian School and later the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Leah followed in her mother’s footsteps – literally – as a track and cross-country athlete. Leah’s 12-year-old daughter, Hadley, is now continuing the tradition as a student at Girls Preparatory School. These three ladies love spending time together, especially on long hikes or while riding around in Leah’s new RV. Here, Brenda and Leah share with us family values, treasured memories, and their wellness philosophy that has spanned three generations.


Photos by Lanewood Studio

Brenda, Leah, and Hadley

HS What is your fondest mother/daughter memory?

BM The year of my 60th birthday, Leah and I ran (and finished!) the New York Marathon.

LG That race was the culmination of a big year for us. Earlier in the summer, I got to take Mom to Italy for the first time. We drove all over the country, and it was just beautiful. We really love traveling together.


HS What values have been most important to your family over the generations?

BM Several things come to mind: If you’re successful, remember your roots and how you got started. Always keep your faith through any adversity. Live every day to the fullest, because you never know when it might be your last.

LG My mom grew up on a farm, and so did her mother, so we’ve just learned over time how to take care of things ourselves. It’s that “make it happen” mentality, and it’s what has helped us survive so much – from my stepdad’s passing from a brain tumor earlier this year to my own brain tumor, thankfully benign, that had to be taken out in January. It’s what helped me recover, get back to work, and get back to doing the things I love again.


HS Leah, what do you consider the biggest lesson your mom has taught you?

LG I think to stay grounded, to not feel sorry for yourself, and to make it happen. Oh, and when I was growing up, she always told me, “You have to change out the toilet paper roll. Don’t be lazy!” I couldn’t just set a new roll on top; it had to be put on its holder! (laughs)


HS You are a very active family! Tell us about your approach to wellness.

LG If I can’t be active, I don’t know how I can exist! It’s second nature to me to be outside, go for a walk, run on the trails – it fills me up. And I’ve been so proud of Hadley; she is so focused and committed to her sport. Mom and I have enjoyed going to the meets and watching her do something she loves.

BM Leah and I share a very competitive spirit, and that’s what running for me started out as – a competition. As I’ve gotten older, I appreciate running even more because it helps me stay mentally and physically healthy. HS

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