Member Spotlight- Candice Bigelow McConnaughey

In 2011, Candice was happily pregnant with her fourth child when an ultrasound revealed devastating news.  After nearly 20 weeks of pregnancy, Candice would find herself in a hospital bed laboring with a child whose life had ended far too soon.  Listening to the doctor describe the process in detached and insensitive terms, she bore the weight of deep ache and loss.  In the months that followed she tried to make sense of her grief and find peace in the place she knew to turn.  Reaching towards her faith in God, she tried to find a way to move forward and continue to serve Him and love people with the broken heart she carried inside.

One of the things that sets Grind2Fit apart from other programs is the sense of community that has been formed among the members that have chosen to make the Barn a part of their lives.  That community would not be possible without the amazing hearts that have found their way into the tribe and worked to both build and protect the sense of love and support we hold so dear.  As we have seen the community grow, we have also had the opportunity for the tribe to get to know one another more deeply and learn about each of our stories.  A common thread seen amongst the group is the ability to take life’s toughest challenges and use them to reach out for growth, development and strength.  We are surrounded every day by resilient spirits who have seen some of life’s darkest moments and refused to give up or surrender.  A pressing belief that there is more to fight for is a quality that trickles down from the top tier and is infused into the makeup of Grind2Fit as a whole.  That same heart of our community was present in Candice long before she joined our community in February of 2019. 

Seeking forward motion and hopeful for some sort of healing and reconciliation of the circumstances, Candice elected to participate in a mission trip to Monterrey Mexico to visit an orphanage.  On her first visit, Candice met a girl named Brenda who would quickly touch Candice’s life in a way that would alter her life and open her heart to a new way of thinking.  The affection was immediate, and the wheels began to turn with the idea that this was God’s solution and purpose within the pain.

Along with meeting Brenda, Candice also discovered an overwhelming lice infestation amongst the community while caring for their hair.  Most of us are aware of what a small experience with the parasites are like but what Candice witnessed is far beyond what most of us will ever encounter.  Sores and long-term damage riddled the heads of the young children while the creatures were accepted as a normal and everyday part of life.  Caring for and treating the children as well as educating the caregivers became a regular part of Candice’s visits over the coming years.

However, Candice would soon discover that, despite Brenda’s situation, red tape and regulation would stand in the way of bringing the beautiful girl home to the United States and making her a legal member of Candice’s family.  Yet the visit had been enough to open Candice’s heart to new possibilities as she began to research the statistics of children in her own backyard.  With the realization that she had been prepared to love and accept a fourth child as well as open her home to a child from another country, the possibility of opening her home to local children in need was realized and Candice began the process of becoming a foster parent and has gone on to foster several children with the love and care of the beautiful woman she is.

Candice & Brenda

The trip to Monterrey became a yearly endeavor and Candice just completed her seventh trip to the orphanage.  To Candice, the trip is no longer just a mission trip but a chance to visit friends and loved ones that her heart misses year-round.  They have become extended parts of her family and celebrated parts of her life.  Most especially, her beloved Brenda who calls her Madrina, the Spanish word for Godmother. 

Candice & Brenda

Last year, Candice and her husband Mike had the joy of adding another permanent member of their family when they adopted a teenage boy out of the foster care system.  Recently they had the honor of watching him graduate high school alongside their biological son.  Prior to meeting Candice and Mike, this was an achievement that was not only highly unlikely but even undesired.  Candice and Mike’s unconditional love and unyielding care had altered the course of his life eternally.  Candice and her husband have now been married for 24 years and have three biological sons, an adopted son and a foster son.

As if all of this was not enough, there is even a plan in the works to bring in another permanent member of the family in the coming future.

Candice’s big heart and dedicated faith is undeniable.  Her welcoming smile and kind words are bright lights within the Barn and is someone you want to meet.  When you see her be sure to say hi to her.  Her love for life and laughter is infectious and her presence in the community is a joy.

Thanks, Candice, for the love and trust you pour into our community.  The Barn wouldn’t be the same without you!

Candice & Amanda at Grind2Fit Paint Night!

Q&A with Candice

1.)  Do you have any hobbies outside of Grind2Fit?

I love music! I volunteer for the praise team at our church where I sing and play bass guitar.