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St. Louis fitness competitor helping women in Guatemala through nonprofit

“Everyone has passions. Everyone has goals. Giving back and giving someone else hope – that surpasses all of that,” Juliet Bagwell said

FENTON, Mo. — Fitness competitor Juliet Bagwell trains in a small gym in Fenton. While she works on shaping up her body there, she’s also helping a community take shape nearly 3,000 miles away.

She is driven by passion.

“Once I feel it, then it becomes a part of me and then I go after it,” she told 5 On Your Side. 

Passion pushes her as she trains. 

“Even cut one corner, you’re not going to achieve your goal,” she said.

In October she achieved her goal of becoming a World Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation pro. She called the achievement humbling.

Even though the competition was a big deal for her, it did not keep her from her other passion. 

“It’s hard to do, to chase both dreams simultaneously,” she said. 

The dream is her goal to do good for others. 

“My grandpa has been a pastor for 73 years and I have a big heart like him,” she explained. 

While she was training for a shot at becoming a WFBB pro, her heart also took her back to the people of Guatemala.

“Every time I go there, I get emotional because they’re my family. They’ve become my family,” she said. 

The families where she goes are in desperate need of help.

“They have nothing,” she said.

Bagwell is the vice president of the nonprofit El Salitre Women’s & Children’s Center. They are helping to educate women by teaching them a way to provide for their families.

“Most of them are single, single moms," she said. "Start a center, a collaborative of women, and teach them a trade so they can earn a living wage to support their family."

The organization is currently helping five women with the hope of assisting 25 in the future.

Fitness can be viewed as a seemingly self-centered sport as people spend hours at a time working on themselves. But Bagwell said it is just as valuable to use her time to help shape up the living conditions of the women in Guatemala. 

“If something is important, you’ll make the time and you’ll make it work and you won’t quit on yourself or the other people that are counting on you,” she said.

She is passionate about her commitment.

“Everyone has passions. Everyone has goals. Giving back and giving someone else hope – that surpasses all of that,” she said.

If you would like to learn more about the Bagwell’s organization, click here.