Girls on the Run© is a non-profit prevention program that encourages preteen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running. Our curricula address all aspects of girls' development - their physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual well-being.
Alexis was officially old enough to go through the program this year, and it was awesome. The exercise they would do was essentially disguised as fun and games, and by the end of the 10-week program all the girls are unbelievably proud of themselves for finishing a 5K event. Although there are some kids like Alexis who discover they love running, it's the girls who started out thinking they HATED running who I really love to watch as they finish the races. It's just so cool to see them with that self-confident, proud, "I can try anything now" demeanor as they cross the finish. That's SO important for girls as they approach the teenage jungle, and very important to me as a mom with three daughters. In subsequent races since Alexis's first, I have seen women and girls of all ages and abilities in the races, including visually and hearing impaired girls, and another who appeared to have mild cerebral palsy who just grinned from ear to ear as she was approaching the finish. It's moving stuff even for the most jaded and cynical.
Seriously, it was just awesome the first time we were involved in a GOTR race that I just HAD to get involved. So, I joined Team Tiara last year, which is a group of local female runners (well, it's open to the dudes but they mostly stick to support/cheerleader roles) who train for a distance event of their choosing, and agree to fundraise a minimum of $262 for the program. I was absolutely scared out of my mind because I'd run exactly one 5K then, and a half marathon seemed SO impossible. There are some kick butt women runners in this area-I feared I'd be out of my league or laughed at or whatever. I was no speedster.
My fears were unwarranted, though. The coaches, speed demons though they were, were also very approachable and encouraging. I met other mid-back-pack runners, and we'd get out there together for runs. We also were able to raise quite a bit of money for the program, which is a true grassroots non-profit, and stays strong locally from the individuals and small businesses who helped us out with fundraising. I ran that target race last year, The Other Half, no longer thinking "just finish." Girls on the Run had changed ME as well, and I had a newfound confidence and pride in training. I ran that day to do my personal best (which, hey, it was going to be anyway with it being my first half....but you know what I mean).
So, I am back again on Team Tiara this year, and want to bring it home big for them. If you're reading this and can/would like to help out, that would be awesome. Like I said, GOTR is grassroots in every sense-they're trying to improve the lives and futures of these girls at the local level, and other than a small amount of money that goes to the national headquarters (who provide great support for us locally), almost all the money comes back here. It means that the 10-week program registration is $30 for all girls even though actual program cost per girl is closer to $80-100. Scholarships are also offered so no girl is ever turned away....something that is a VERY big deal to me personally because it means the most at-risk girls are able to participate, not just those whose families make enough for extracurriculars for their kids. The coaches are unpaid volunteers-many are runners but others are women/parents who simply believe in the program and want to pitch in however they can.
If you're inspired and would like to help, visit my fundraising page here:
I fixed the link so you can click above without cutting and pasting. :)
It's a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so you get a nice little tax receipt to help you out later at tax time, and I honestly can't think of many other nonprofits who put SO much directly back into the local programs. It takes about three minutes to donate via the above link and you'll instantly get your email receipt. It's a VeriSign secured website, but if you're not wild about transactions on the Googles on the Internets, feel free to drop me a line. GOTR is also happy to take donations the old fashioned way by paper check or money order.
And yes...this was quite a long shameless plug and I'm well aware how many people are out there fundraising and collecting for groups these days. I just am very passionate about their program, and see how they have improved the lives of girls in our community, as well as the girls/women in this family. :)
And now, off to wash my clothes so I have something to wear for my long run tomorrow morning. :)