I chose to become a Girls on the Run SoulMate because of my 6 year old daughter Marlene Reyes. Marlene is currently in Kindergarten and not old enough to be a part of GOTR but she knows all about it. Her reading buddy who is in the 4th grade at school was training for her 5K on campus and telling Marlene all about it. She came home excited and told me she couldn’t wait to be part of the Girls on the Run program when she’s older. As a woman who is currently learning to run I was inspired by my daughter’s enthusiasm. I was never taught the gift of running as a child and my goal this year is to run a 5K. I am using an iPhone app and interval training to push myself to run further and further. Every time I run one minute longer I feel a sense of accomplishment. I knew once Marlene talked to me about GOTR that this was a program I needed to support. After reading about the complete training program and the emotional and social support the girls receive who participate in the program I knew I had to be a SoulMate. I will be walk/running the Rock and Roll DC Half Marathon on behalf of GOTR but this will be bringing me one step closer to reaching my goal of running a complete 5K. I cannot wait until Marlene is old enough to participate in the GOTR program and I can cross the 5K finish line running side by side with her.
I have worked with youth and philanthropic organizations for a large portion of my life. I spent several summers serving as a camp counselor to boys and girls ranging in grade level from Elementary to Junior High. I was actively involved with Breast Cancer Awareness and Education and I raised funds donated to Susan G. Komen through my philanthropic work while in college. I am still active in donating time to Breast Cancer Awareness and Education, and I miss the days of working with children at summer camp, an activity I can no longer participate in due to distance and full time employment. Fortunately, I found Girls on the Run through my search for an organization devoted to working with youth.
I heard about Girls on the Run through a variety of sources and upon learning more about the organization I decided that this was an organization I wanted to be a part of. I served as a coach for the first time in the Fall 2012 and I am so glad that I did. My experience coaching the team of nine girls was a true joy and it brought back an element to my life that had been absent over the past few years. I was impressed with each girl’s commitment to the team and attending practice. They were supportive of each other, they never complained, they eagerly participated in every activity, and they contributed to group discussions. They especially looked forward to the spirit awards and team cheer at the end of each practice, oh and the healthy snacks too. I even felt refreshed by the lessons that built self-confidence and how to address challenges that apply to everyday life.
Through this experience with Girls on the Run, I learned about the SoleMates program that raises funds for scholarships, so I decided to make a pledge and join the team. I truly believe that scholarships are an important aspect of because they make the program more achievable for any girl who wants to participate but may not have the financial means to do so. The program builds a strong character, sense of community and teaches the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle in the young girls who participate. If I can raise funds to give at least one girl this opportunity then it is worth it.
I have run many races with varying motivational factors behind them – to reach a personal goal, to run and push family members and friends, and to support philanthropic organizations. As a runner, I am motivated to reach a goal I set for myself. You are your own opponent and a motivator all at once. While running is mostly an individual sport, it is also something that can help you connect with other people. The way Girls on the Run integrates team building as a factor of personal growth throughout the season which is important for support and motivation. GOTR does an excellent job in providing the girls with an external voices of coaches and Buddy Runners that push and motivate them, teaching and impressing upon them that yes they can do it – yes they can reach their goals!
That is why I chose GOTR and decided to get involved. Helping youth realize and achieve their goals is my biggest motivation for fundraising and being active in my community. I believe it is important to serve as a positive contributor to bettering the world in which you live and are a part of. I was fortunate to have a supportive family and strong group of positive friends throughout my life, but know that that is not the case for all young children. In being involved, I hope to inspire the next generation to stay involved and keep organizations like Girls on the Run alive. I am grateful that they have allowed me into their community and have given me the opportunity to give back.
Running is my life…but it hasn’t always been that way. Growing up I lived with my little sister and mother. I was a very reserved and very self-conscious kid. I stuck close to home and focused on my studies.
One day, during my freshman year of high school, I was working with the faculty advisor of the school newspaper on the new issue, when she told me she was the track coach and asked if I would ever consider running on the team. I told her that I was not athletic at all and had never participated on a team, and I would be worried about disappointing teammates if I didn’t perform to high enough standards. She told me to give it a week, and if I didn’t like running, I could quit the team.
On the first day of practice, I was nervous, but excited to see what a team sport was all about. We were told to jog for fifteen minutes around the track. I couldn’t even make it a full lap around. By the end of the first week I could jog for fifteen minutes without stopping and I was so proud of my accomplishment. My Coach, the late Bob Elder took me under his wing and developed me as an athlete. By the end of the first season, I had become an 800 m runner. I went to track camp that summer, and quickly became one of the fastest runners on the team.
More importantly than my speed, I developed confidence. I was much more sure of myself and my personality came out anytime I was on the track or around my team. That confidence spilled over into the classroom and into my non-running life. I no longer felt like the shy, invisible girl. I developed a presence about me because I had found my niche.
I am a Coach and a Solemate so that I can help other girls feel strong and beautiful through athletics. Strong, confident young girls, make for strong, confident teenagers, and strong, confident adults. Running gave me a family and a sense of purpose. Encouraging someone as young as eight to develop healthy habits and give them a sense of accomplishment that goes beyond the classroom is what keeps me coming back. I am not sure who I would have been without running, but I am very happy that running and my Coach molded me into the person I am today.