Joe (Dirt) Borer: Red Boot Winner

It's just amazing how when you shout out for good, good stuff just seems to magically happen.

Down at the bottom of this short lil' intro, is a blog piece written by Red Booter Molly Barker.  As many of you know, she is the founder of Girls on the Run and is out Red Bootin' LIVE with the girls, volunteers, staff, families and other awesome people who make Girls on the Run come to life in their communities.

The piece below  ran on her personal blog ( and on her Facebook page.  The response should we put it...way awesome. Folks all across the world have read about Joe (Dirt) Borer.  People throughout Ketchikan have been writing in about Joe and the smile he shares everyday as people pass him and his team, hard at work on road construction.

road work ahead

Some of the remarks about Joe include:

"Joe helped me chase down my dogs when they had gotten out."

"Joe helped the kids who needed to get to school, but had to cross a huge ditch, by helping get them to the other side."

"I see him and didn't know his name, but he works 24/7 and always has a smile and a wave."

"It's so great to see a guy like this receive recognition.  He is the salt of the earth and our world never gives that kind of recognition.  Rock on Joe!"

"I am so grateful I know him."

I'm so proud to know this person."

"I just saw him having coffee at McDonald's and he shared a big smile with me and my daughter."

"He is a really good guy."

One person even shared his story with Ellen DeGeneres.

And so...we've decided that Joe epitomizes what Red Boot Livin' is all about.

He is love.  He is joy.  He is real. He is humble.  He is, whether he realizes it or not, positively influencing lives with each and every smile he gives, wave he shares, hand he lends.

We so often think that we have to come blazin' onto the scene riding a big ole' horse, fireworks banging and money ta boot (pun intended) to be a change-maker, but the truth is...Joe has, by just being his awesome and fantabulous self...had (and continues to have) a significant impact on his community in Ketchikan....and now, as a result of the fact that we are reading this...the one we live in also.

We in Red Boot Land, call this magical space-of-power our "8 Feet of Impact."  We may not be able to change what feels like the big stuff in the world...poverty, hunger, war, discrimination...but we can influence the 8 feet of world around us.  We can listen, smile and connect; and if it is possible within our realm of influence in those 8 feet, share our resources, help feed those who are hungry, speak peace and accept all.

This is in essence how movements begin and the world does indeed change.  It starts by taking action...Red Boot the 8 feet of life around us where we can, indeed, truly take action! 

Furthermore, Joe comes in, how shall we say this...a strong man-way of being. We mean, come on now, after all, the guy builds freakin' roads.

ROADS, ya'll.

He jackhammers out big walls and stands in the mucky hot steaming asphalt and creates a space for our several ton cars and trucks to roll over, everyday.

He does all this big manual labor with a smile on his face, a huge heart that is obvious to those around him and a willingness to connect in a gentle, "here I am" vulnerable kind of way.  We mean, let's face it.  This is the Red Booter Way.  Strong and vulnerable in the same minute and integrated within the same spirit!

And so, we've decided to send him a pair of Red Work Boots.  We've reached out to XtraTuf Brand Boots located right there in Alaska to see if they might offer up a pair...if not, we're happy to pay for them, cuz....that's just how we roll.

Yes...peeps.  He is a living example of Red Booter Power (and that's Power with a capital P!)

So, without further adieu...let us introduce you to Joe Borer...a.k.a. Joe Dirt.

Joe Dirt:  America's New Superhero

I’ve just spent a week in Alaska. Juneau first. Sitka next and Ketchikan to round it out.

Last night I attended the season-ending Girls on the Run 5k in Ketchikan.

I’ve learned a lot about Alaska. It’s about one of the friendliest places you’ll ever want to travel. It’s also, hands down, one of the most spiritual places I’ve ever been. The moment I stepped off the plane in Juneau, the air just felt…different.

Alaska is also located in what’s called a temperate rainforest. THAT means it rains a lot. As in a whole lot. It had been raining off and on all day in Ketchikan…mostly on. The temperature had dropped into the mid to high 40’s. A bit too cool for this Southern girl’s taste.

So…I decked out in the closest-I-could-find in my North Carolina spring attire to keep me warm. Ill-prepared for the weather, I was extremely grateful, that as a parting gift in Juneau, one of our fabulous coaches had knitted me a beautiful hat. Warmed by her spirit, I put it on and headed out into the rain and the chilly air.

hat and Molly

Not like any other GOTR 5k venue I had ever been to, the Ketchikan course was beautifully tucked under a luscious canopy of huge trees…majestic trees that spoke of spirit, magic and grace. Three covered huts, each complete with burning firepits, kept participants cozy and warm while we waited for the run to begin. Pictures were taken. Faces were painted. Hair was sprayed with glitter and rainbow-bright colors. The energy, despite the cold and rainy weather, was warm and radiant.

The run begins and unlike other GOTR 5k’s I decided to run one lap of the two lap course. The soft pine needle-covered path under my feet…the cool air…the rain now reduced to small drops of floating moisture there beneath the arms of those nurturing mother-trees.

I stopped after lap one to cheer on the girls behind me, when he caught my eye.

The beauty of him…a smile as soft and gentle as warm-summer-breeze, crinkles around his eyes and mouth…telltale signs of a life hard-lived…a life well-lived with laughter and love.

…And dirty. Covered in the stuff. There was so much dirt on his face I wanted to laugh out loud…the boy-like wonder, mischief and joy there in the body of this man…strong yet vulnerable.

I wandered to the finish line…to cheer on the girls.

After the race…some of the girls were gathering…when he and his daughter walked over. She and her team had a box full of cards…each one decorated with words of gratitude for the “founding of Girls on the Run.”

He patiently and humbly waited there, while a group of us giggled, read through each card and shared stories.

The day was done. Kids scattering. Fires extinguished. Darkness approaching.

They were walking away.


He turned.

“You are…well…you are a beautiful dad for being here. Your daughter, Dyllan will remember this forever.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

My phone was dead. “Could I take a picture of you and your daughter? And then would you send it to me? I just…I just don’t know what to say but something about you and your daughter really touches my heart.”

“Sure.” He hands me his phone.

I snap the photo.

joe dirt

And then it comes…it always does. That moment of connection when the rest of the world ceases to exist and we just are…there…together.

We embrace that kind of hug that isn’t anything but appreciation…one for the other…real big love…the kind that changes the world, opens hearts and empowers. The kind that says “I see you.”

“You are a special man.” His daughter by his side, the three of us smile.

“They call me Joe Dirt.”

The three of us laugh out loud.

“Joe Dirt is a perfect name for you…just perfect.”

His daughter snuggles up next to him…his arm around her. She looks up at her dad…proud he is her father. Proud of the man she sees. Proud.

The photo shows up only moments later in my messages. The message with it…Joe Dirt.

I followed up with a text today, thanking him for allowing me to take the photo. I wanted to let him know that the photo of him and his daughter had received more “likes” on my Facebook page than just about any other photo, I had ever posted. He called right away.

“You are fast becoming a social media sensation!” I smiled. “There’s just something about you Joe Dirt.”

He was silent for a moment and then it comes…I could hear the emotion in his voice.

“This program…Girls on the Run…it brings out a very positive attitude from my daughter. It’s been hard to be positive lately. I work 65 to 80 hours a week…am going through a tough time. She makes me very proud to be her dad.”

I listen…want to cry for reasons that even now elude me.

Joe Dirt may be a superhero, but Joe Borer…now HE is a beautiful, beautiful man.