On Saturday, the local Girls on the Run (GOTR) 5k took place and it was fantastic! Last year, I was a coach/mentor for the NYC chapter before I moved back to Arizona and the experience was unlike any other.
GOTR transforms both the girls and coaches. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the program, GOTR is a 16-week program that not only prepares the girls to run a 5k, but also develops their character building skills. These skills feature topics like “Why is bullying bad?” to “What is inner beauty?”
When I moved back to AZ, I didn’t immediately have a job and decided to wait to become a coach until I had more stability and a car. Anyways by the time I received my job offers, it was too late to be a coach.
I still wanted to be involved since the program had such a positive impact on me last year so I decided I would sign-up as a “sparkle runner!” A sparkle runner is a runner who is basically a running buddy for stray girls on the course. We are there to protect and encourage them during the 5k.
I invited members of my running club, A Happily Pink Journey, to volunteer with me and three agreed. Caitlin, Manny and Esteban completed their first 5k the day of this event and were incredibly happy! I found a girl running solo and decided to join her. We chatted about everything in those short three miles: church, music, family, fashion, cheer, sports, and most importantly, what we planned to eat after the run!
One of my best friends, Kindle, was in town and decided to come out and volunteer with us. She kept the same running pace as Caitlin. During their run, Caitlin saw a girl fall because her shoes laces were tangled. She tied the shoes of the little girl and helped her back up. Kindle said it was the most heart-warming moment.
Esteban and Manny did a great job cheering on everyone, including my running buddy and I as we crossed the finish line. I high-fived my buddy as she was beaming
with pride that she completed her first 5k ever! At the end of the race
found her family and they congratulated her.
I’m grateful to have such compassionate individuals in my running club. There was a unanimous vote to come back as sparkle runners or coaches
next year– everyone couldn’t stop talking about their experience with
the girls! We can’t wait until next year!!!