Posted Suzanna McCloskey on 8/11/2015 |Featured Columns & Series
“I dare you to train for a marathon and not have it change your life.” Those wise words from fellow runner Susan Sidoriak carry weight for anyone who has completed a marathon and likely ring especially true for charity runners. When training for my second marathon, the 2015 Country Music Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee, I wanted to make a positive impact on my community while running, so I decided to fundraise as a SoleMate for Girls on the Run of Charlotte (my local Girls on the Run council).
Completing an athletic event as a SoleMate is the perfect way to make training fun, meaningful and keep yourself accountable! The Girls on the Run SoleMates program provides athletes an opportunity to raise money for Girls on the Run in their community while training for an athletic event.
SoleMates don’t have to run marathons – the event just needs to push you past your comfort zone, which could mean completing a 5k, 10k or any other distance. SoleMates also don’t have to be runners! As a SoleMate, you can train for a bicycle race, swim competition or any other athletic event. (Hiking the Appalachian Trail, anyone?)
We all have our own stories about what draw us to running. For me, it’s about setting personal goals and succeeding. It’s my time to mentally and physically recharge and feel happiness. Running helps me feel joyful, healthy and confident, and, since Girls on the Run inspires girls to also feel that same way, raising funds for Girls on the Run while training was a natural fit for me.
But, if you’re like me, the prospect of fundraising can be intimidating. I had never peer-to-peer fundraised before, so I was nervous about approaching my friends and family for donations. However, when asking for donations, I found speaking from the heart worked best, and it was more intimidating to think about asking for donations than it was to actually make the ask. I told my prospective donors about how dedicated I was to training for the marathon as a SoleMate and about how Girls on the Run encourages girls to activate their limitless potential. I shared how my $500 fundraising goal would fund scholarships for three full girls to complete a season of Girls on the Run at no expense to them. To my surprise and delight, every single person I directly asked made a donation!
Girls on the Run also has an easy-to-use GOTR Giving Platform where you can create a dedicated fundraising page for your project (here is mine, for example). Having an online space for my SoleMates project that was easily sharable to social media was key for me in raising donations…and watching my list of donors grow was just fun!
I was ecstatic and proud to exceed my fundraising goal before the County Music Marathon in April. At the start line, I beamed with the joy of finally being at the culminating moment of the past months of hard work. The course support was great, with Nashvillians cheering us along the entire way, but hot weather and a very hilly course left me feeling more exhausted than I thought I would be around mile 23 of the marathon.
With 3.2 miles to go, thinking of how I was running for more than just myself carried me through to the end of the race. As a SoleMate, I was running for GOTR girls and all the positivity the organization stands for, and that was the most encouraging, inspiring motivation possible. With that thought in mind, I finished the race as a much stronger, confident person than I was when I started it. As we say at Girls on the Run, the finish line is just the beginning. I’ll agree to that!
Get involved! The Girls on the Run SoleMates program provides people an opportunity to raise money for Girls on the Run while training for the athletic event of their choice. Find your local council, register to be a SoleMate and let your love of movement change the life of a girl.