Girls On The Run

 Being around children is one of my favorite things in the world.
In fact, I believe that God's plan for me on this earth is to empower children and learn from them at the same time. When I found {Girls on The Run} I had originally wanted to volunteer at Seattle Children's but just was not sure if I could make such a big time commitment. So, I searched the internet for other ways I could volunteer my time and found GOTR. Girls on the Run is a fabulous organization that empowers girls with a little running thrown in along the way. 
Their mission statement is just as superb and goes like this:
We believe that every girl
can embrace who she is,
can define who she wants to be,
can rise to any challenge,
can change the world.
Did I mention they are fabulous?
Every week 3rd-5th grade girls meet after school with their coach and assistant coach and play games that foster strong girls. About 3/4 of the way through the program the running buddies come into play. We show up at a designated practice and run a practice 5k with the girls. For us that meant running 12 times around a track, a little mind numbingly repetitive but the focus was more on our girl buddy anyhow.
I showed up at my first practice unsure of what to expect and was greeted by a big group of parent volunteers. I had expected to see a larger number of non-parent running buddies after learning that GOTR is Gamma Phi Beta's philanthropy and therefore a younger crowd is involved in the whole goulash. All the same, I was paired with a tall, eager girl with a pink bow in her hair. I knew we would get along right away. She wasted no time in getting to know me and soon enough we were ticking off lap after lap with a new knowledge of each other at every turn. At the end of our practice go I was glad that I had signed up for the whole thing and anxiously awaiting the actual 5k.
The morning of the 5k I woke up around 6am and headed into the city to get an early start to my day. I had decided that I would get to the location obnoxiously early, find myself a decent parking spot, walk to a nearby bakery and read Blog Inc until check in time at 8:45. The plan went smoothly until I walked back to the park and suddenly realized that I had showed up at the complete wrong place. The actual event was halfway across town and I had 15 minutes to get there... whoops. The buddy coordinator was fabulous when I called her to let her know about my blunder and I was off again.
I was greeted by a sea of pink shirts at the event and, best of all, my sweet running buddy's exuberant hug. We walked slowly to the start line and all of the sudden, we were off! My buddy and I went at a walk, run, jog pace and that was fine with me. We chatted the whole way and I was struck by just how big the whole thing was.
By the time we reached the finish line I was beaming. I was so proud of not only my running buddy, but of all of the other girls. Crossing the finish line in a race is a big thing. Because running is so individual and so self-motivated being able to say that they finished a 5k is huge. It is in a sense a validation of the strength of girls. I was beaming in the dorkiest way and so glad to be a part of such an amazing thing.
I found one picture of myself from the event, and had to cut my running buddy out as a courtesy to her privacy, so the thing is a little distorted. I can assure you it would be just as awkward and unflattering anyway you look at it. But rewarding all the same.
If you would like to find a Girls On The Run program in your area visit {GOTR} and find a chapter near you. You do not have to be a runner to volunteer, in fact they have plenty of girls who prefer to walk the whole thing. More chit-chat time I figure!
How do you get involved?