Posted Lauren Cunningham on 12/15/2016 |Giving Back
Have you ever had a “lightning bolt” moment? A key moment that shapes who you are forever?
I had one of these lightning bolt moments just after my 25th birthday. I was taking part in a life-skill coaching program (much like the intention of GOTR!), and for the first time that I can recall in my life, I looked in the mirror and thought, “I am beautiful, complete and perfect.” It shook me and from that moment on, I try to revisit the feeling I had in that moment when I need to course-correct a negative thought.
That next month, I had the opportunity to create a community project. I thought, “If I could rally up a community to give that feeling to just one young girl that would be pretty great!”
Shortly after, our idea for the Good4Girls event was formed.
I first rallied the owner of FORME Studios in Atlanta, Donna Burke, and asked her to take on this community event with me. I was nervous to ask such a busy and successful person for help! But, I learned that busy people are busy because they have the heart and desire to give, and that’s just what Donna did.
We created a city-wide fitness dance party, the first of its kind in Atlanta. Our idea was that if we could tap into all the fitness studios in Atlanta who embody women empowerment, in partnership with GOTR’s incredible mission and their national sponsor (and my employer!) Cigna, we could have an impact on young girls everywhere in Atlanta. WOW. Exciting AND intimidating!
We shared this initial vision with Lea Rolfes, the director of Atlanta’s GOTR program, who was also incredibly supportive of our idea. At about the same time, I was having a conversation with the principal of a local public school, Humphries Elementary. She shared with me that the after school sports programming for young girls was limited. I had met these kids through volunteer opportunities that Cigna was a part of, and I had seen how incredibly polite, smart, enthusiastic and kind-hearted the girls were.
Something had to be done to tie all these threads together… and just like that, many threads created a beautiful fabric!
A venue discounted their space when they heard the mission of Girls on the Run. Boutiques donated raffle items because they knew a friend’s daughter who had participated in GOTR curriculum. Cigna heard of the opportunity to impact both Humphries and GOTR, thus providing a generous donation and volunteer hours to make the event happen. Over 15 fitness studios, who otherwise would be competitors, partnered to promote and attend the event because they believe in the women’s health movement. Athleta heard that the event would benefit GOTR and was able to provide clothes so that we could put on a fitness fashion show. There are countless other examples.
Truly, it was a collective effort backed by passion and this is what can happen when we put values like community, teamwork, love and health at the center.
Together, hundreds of women came together the night of the event and we raised over $8,000 for Girls on the Run Atlanta! Having the honor to co-direct this first annual event taught me that as a community, we have a great opportunity to shape our world and contribute to something much larger than us as individuals. Just like GOTR’s curriculum teaches, leading the Good4Girls event taught me confidence, patience, collaboration, contribution, wonder… and, when all else fails, to let go and have FUN!