Posted Pamela Young on 2/19/2015 |Remarkable! People
Third-grader Genevieve (Genna) Brennan is no stranger to obstacles. At the age of 2, Genna was diagnosed with a form of autism and worked extra hard to master some of her developmental skills. When she was in the second grade, Genna experienced bullying at school. At home, her mother Kimberly struggles with a bone marrow disease, and being on permanent disability eventually led to foreclosure on their house. It hasn’t been easy.
But luckily Genna is also no stranger to hope and joy. Her can-do spirit is exceptional. This past year, when she missed registering for the softball team, she asked the coach if she could come to the practices just to help. Even though she couldn’t play, she showed up every week, assisting in any way she could and cheering for the team.
Her experience in Girls on the Run has been just as positive. Says one of her Girls on the Run coaches, “From day one, Genna has been an example to our team. She really takes every lesson to heart in her quest to be the best she can be.”
Although Genna sometimes has trouble keeping up with the other girls during the running portions of practice, she always participates with a big smile, encouraging the girls who pass her on the track. And during the practice 5k in the week before the big 5k finale celebration (see photo below), she was on fire—clearly tapping into the lessons she had learned about visualizing success, taking things one breath at a time and putting your best self into anything you do.
How can you possibly top that? With a trip to Disney!
Genna was selected by the global health organization Cigna for an expense-paid trip to Orlando to participate in the Disney Family Fun Run 5k! Cigna, who is a National Partner of Girls on the Run, is also a sponsor of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. They offered the opportunity for one amazing girl on the run to participate, and Genna’s story and qualities of leadership and perseverance made her their first choice. So in January, Genna and Kimberly made the trip to Disney World where she represented Girls on the Run of the Capital Area and her team at Camp Hill Pennsylvania’s Eisenhower Elementary School!
Decked out in gear from sportswear retailer Athleta, another National Partner of Girls on the Run, Genna soaked up the Disney experience that Cigna made possible and ran the 5k with her trademark joy and appreciation.
Says Kimberly, “Genna has been through so much and is always so positive. We are so thankful she had this opportunity.”
Genna Brennan celebrates as she completes the practice 5k with her Girls on the Run team.