Saturday, November 22, 2008

Girls on the Run 5K

Chills.. not just because it was under 30 degrees this morning... not just because it gets darker before we know it. but because of all the people, girls especially this morning running. This morning I volunteered for the Girl's on the Run 5k. In training for the Ironman, I have learned this beautiful thing of giving back. My mom always said when I was younger, "you should always give back" whether it be by reffing at my highschool's gradeschool Christmas tournament, or coaching.

I had thought about different organizations many times, and after this mornings events, I knowI have picked the right one. This WONDERFUL organization gave me chills this morning. Girls On the Run's mission is to prepare every preteen girl in the greater Cincinnati region for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living. Through the hard work of volunteer coaches, Girls on the Run of Cincinnati, Inc. is a life-changing, experiential learning program for girls age eight to thirteen years old. The 12-week programs combine training for a 3.1 mile running event with self-esteem enhancing, uplifting workouts. The goals of the programs are to encourage positive emotional, social, mental, spiritual and physical development. Each week, participants learn important life skills while completing a physical activity. The program culminates in a non-competitive 5K race event which gives the girls a chance to shine and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.

This morning, my volunteering station was face painting! I rocked it! haha, between the girl's whom knew exactly what they wanted me to paint on them, to those that were just nervous (and cold I am sure) to be there. At the entertainment booth, we also had temporary tatoos, and crown making. I will proudly wear this on Thanksgiving Day Race Thursday. One little girl touched my heart. She sat down, and told me she didn't know what she wanted. We began talking, and I learned this was Kendal's first race. She was the most scared about not being able to finish the race. I told her about how sometimes, when I too step up to the line, I don't know if I will finish. I asked if she has done everything she can to get ready and she said yes, and then I shared with this young, precious girl, my I WILL slogan. I ensured her that as the going gets tough, just keep telling yourself over and and over, I WILL Do this.. I WILL be strong, I WILL have fun, I WILL run hard, I WILL FINISH. And sure enough, that is what I painted big, bold, and proudly on her little face. Even though her and I were the only two that knew what it meant, being she was the only one with such art work, it was great to share something so deep to my heart with her.

After a small hug, even though I couldn't feel my hands, feet.. what feet? I was warm all over, for the impact of this little girl. After the last painting, we waited in anticipation for these many girls, coaches, and family members to run past us near the finish line. Their smiles were huge! Their strides were long, and the emotional feelings that I felt working the finish line at IMLOU this year in 08 were back. I kept looking for my new little friend, Kendal, and before I knew it here she came, running so fast and not looking back. She screamed I WILL do this again! I really almost had a tear.

I am glad to support GOTR organization in my training, and I look forward to many ways I can help in the future. What a wonderful day, and amazing new beginning for these many different girls!


Mary Sunshine said...

GOTR is a truly life-changing organization. Not only for the Girls but also for the Moms.

Six years ago, after seeing my daughter, Johanna, cross that 5K finish line with her GOTR team, I promised her that I would lose a hundred pounds and do the race with her the following year. This was the motivation I needed to finally lose the weight and reclaim my life. And this time I kept my promise.

Jess, I believe there is a reason that you touch so many lives in so many ways! I think you may never know the amazing impact you have on people...and have certainly had on me. I wish you a wonderful year ahead!

Godspeed, JessicaLeeLeonard!! and God Bless!


Anonymous said...



LKA said...

Wow! What an incredible organization! Wow!

I love the idea of empowering young girls as they're thrown so much crap early on (peer pressure, media, etc.) to beat 'em down.

I will check them out myself. I'm so glad you shared this!

- Lora/Lkagop