Stephanie Rafferty is an energetic and inspirational runner. She is a lead runner of the Wild Cheetah
Girlz Running Club. On Wednesdays, she stands on a platform to lead the group---setting out distances
and organizing hill and speed workouts. Stephanie also coaches 5k classes and leads the Wild Cheetah
Book Club now that the former leader, Grete Bittner, is living on a sailboat. Stephanie is also a
tremendously successful runner on the local scene. She has actually won races and always places in her
age division. Her distance of choice is the marathon; she has run 34.
Stephanie has moved around a lot in her life. She has lived in Mississippi, Kentucky, Texas, and
Florida. She and her husband, Mike, moved here in 2008. They have been married 27 years and have 2
children: Andrew is 24 and Alafaire is 22.
She graduated with a Fine Arts Degree from the University of Kentucky. Later, she got her nursing
degree in San Antonio and started working in behavioral health, a field she loves. Two years ago, she
earned a second degree in nursing at UWF and now works in Baptist Hospital’s Mental Health
Stephanie didn’t always run. She started running to lose weight as a young mother. She ran a lot by
herself but when she moved to Pensacola, a group of ladies wanted to run a marathon. That sparked
her interest in the distance. The distance proved addictive to her and she is still loving the marathon.
Eventually, she started running with the Wild Cheetah Girlz (formerly the Phat Girlz) . She fell in love
with the camaraderie of running with the group and loves the fact that it is all women supporting one
another and running in safety. She loves its diversity (young, old, fast, slow, career and stay-at-home
moms) and loves the feeling of being on and supporting a team. She expresses that feeling in the
following: “I feel that people have different and more in depth conversations when they are running. I
have literally met a person and learned their whole life story over the course of a race.” Stephanie
supports running and supports runners; she is the one congratulating and taking pictures of all Cheetah
Girlz after the races.