There’s just something about bringing together hundreds of girls and their Running Buddies that results in magic. This past Saturday was the Celebratory 5K for Girls on the Run, an international program that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident, and challenges them to overcome obstacles through running.
I was a Running Buddy for Audrey, a smart and determined 3rd grader who I met a few weeks ago at the practice 5K where she both challenged and inspired me.
The Celebratory 5K was held at Greenway Park in Beaverton and the conditions were perfect. While it was predicted to be in the mid-80s, a dose of cloud coverage kept the temperature pleasant. Many of the girls and their Running Buddies donned colorful tutu skirts and hats, while temporary tattoos, face paint, and hair ribbons completed the outfits. The energy and excitement could be seen on everyone’s faces.
Audrey and I were in the last of five waves, and as we headed to the starting line, I reminded her of the importance of not going out too fast. She agreed and we found our pace as we made our way through the crowded course, weaving in and out of energetic girls.
The course was full of signs bearing positive messages and encouragement such as “Go Mighty Girls,” “You’re Strong” and “You Got This.” I used the motivational words as an opportunity to tell Audrey that she was doing great and I was proud of her. During the run, we talked about what we enjoyed about running. I shared that I can have a bad day, but after a run I feel better and am more confident. She agreed and said that she likes how running makes her feel too.
Hundreds of cheering proud parents, volunteers, and others beckoned us in across the finish line. It was exhilarating. Audrey later told me that this was one of her favorite parts of the race. As we crossed the finish line, I gave Audrey a high five as our finisher’s medals were draped around our necks. I’ve completed many races in the past, but this medal will always remain special.
Before we parted ways, Audrey asked me if I would be her Running Buddy next year—this was the highest compliment for me and I didn’t hesitate to tell her “Absolutely,” but suggested that next year we should add some flair to our outfits. She thought that was a great idea.
I’m honored that I could share my passion for running with Audrey. While Girls on the Run is certainly about running, I’ve learned that the program is about so much more, and I hope that the experience gave Audrey the confidence to know that she can accomplish anything she sets out to do.
One of the many highlights of the day for me was joining the Be the Match registry. Every four minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer and is in need of a bone marrow transplant (that’s 360 people a day or 15 people each hour). I’ve been wanting to join the registry for a while and was delighted to see a booth at the 5K to sign up.
Have you volunteered with GOTR? What was the highlight of the program for you?