Posted Sharon Stone on 8/20/2018 |Coach's Corner
The culminating 5K at the end of each Girls on the Run season is my absolute favorite day! First as a parent, then as coach, and now as a program coordinator, the day doesn’t pass without goosebumps of awe and inspiration. When all 25 teams, 300 girls and their families come together for this event, the venue just oozes with girl power!
We do our best to make 5K events fun and noncompetitive, hosting stations for hair painting, face tattoos, balloons, bubbles and fun prizes topped off with a special finisher’s medal. Generous people come out to volunteer, giving up their Saturday morning to brave the wet and windy weather. In fact, it’s the volunteers that make this party possible. Not to mention the 70+ amazing volunteer coaches that meet with our GOTR girls each week during the season.
Whether you’re a participant, volunteer or cheerleader on the sidelines, I guarantee you will be inspired by the hard-work and determination of the young girls you see. You will leave with cheeks sore from smiling and bubbles of joy in your chest. I have found that part of what makes this celebration so unique are the thousands of individual moments of magic. I’m always thankful to witness these little sparks of connection.
My focus on this day is to get dozens of volunteers organized, in place and to also match our volunteer Running Buddies with GOTR girls. You see, we like to make sure that every girl runs the race with her own personal cheerleader. Oftentimes, they bring a parent or neighbor to run with them, but there are some girls whose parents can’t keep up with their quick little feet. Thankfully, our community is full of people anxious to join in on the fun.
At a recent 5K, I was approached by a mom and her frowning, freckle-faced girl. “Ellie needs somebody to run with,” she said. One of my colleagues, Tasha, who spends her days making nutritious meals for the YMCA preschool and had never attended a GOTR 5K, excitedly stood beside me and volunteered to be Ellie’s Running Buddy. I introduced the two and they were bound together for the rest of the morning.
Following the race, Tasha, normally a slow and thoughtful speaker, came running up to me, with her face still flushed from running. “That was so much fun,” she exclaimed! She recounted the run with obvious enthusiasm. She said that Ellie was a dash-and-walk runner which accurately describes probably 75 percent of the young runners.
Tasha recounted that, after Ellie saw some boys ahead of her who had previously teased her, she had a singular goal – to get in front of them and show them that she was STRONG! Together, Tasha and Ellie worked hard and passed the young men seamlessly. The elder told the younger to remember that moment in following week and forever, especially at school when the boys might attempt to make her feel small again.
The connection I observed between Tasha and young Ellie was a spark of magic. Ellie’s mom later disclosed to me that Ellie told her she wasn’t going to run the night before the 5K. She said Ellie was nervous that she would have to run alone, but now was beaming with pride. Tasha, too, gushed that it was the best day ever. And, although they might never see each other again, I’m certain they will think of each other for many years to come.
I am convinced that there was a virtual, electric storm with all the sparks of magic that occurred that blustery morning. I was only able to witness a handful of joyful transformations firsthand, but that was enough to refuel my passion for this program and my excitement for next season. I look forward to seeing more schools, more girls, more Running Buddies and more magic than ever before!