Monday, May 27, 2013

Fun Run…Girls on the Run Helping Others

This is my second year of coaching Girls on the Run at Oak Hills Elementary, and each year has been so rewarding and meaningful.  As part of their curriculum, each group is required to develop and implement a Community Impact Project.  We start this process by asking the girls to discuss ideas they are passionate about.  Then they form groups and present one big idea that we, as a team, can do within the time frame of our Girls on the Run session, to make a difference in the community.  After presenting three great ideas, the runners up were:  1) Environmental clean-up at the school, and 2) Making toys for the animals at the Humane Society because, as one girls said, “Not everyone can have a pet, but everyone can make a difference in the lives of animals.”  My eyes are still a little misty after hearing that one.  

The winner, that almost the entire team voted for, was to organize a Fun Run for the Food Bank.  The girls wanted to host a 1 mile run at our school track.  They decided to charge $2 or pantry food for the race entry.  They made posters to hang all over school, and asked permission to go into all the classrooms to make an announcement about it.  Such great lessons and experience!  As their coach, I took the liberty of blasting the information all over Facebook and in emails.  My dear friend, and co-coach for the other GOTR team at Oak Hills, Amy Little (Race Director of Cause + Event Portland), graciously offered up extra Cause + Event race bibs for us to use and feel “legit.”  The girls planned to have an aid station with water cups, and a start/finish banner.  

Race day rain didn’t dampen their spirits.  It was pouring for much of the day.  We all showed up at 4pm to set up the course.  The girls brought chalk to write inspirational phrases all around the track.  We set up a canopy with an aid station, filling Dixie cups with water.  The girls set up the registration table, ready to make change and collect food.  Several of the girls brought their collections of silly bands to pass out to the runners as they completed each of their four laps, before heading down the finish chute.  They thought of everything, and a little rain didn’t seem to matter much.  For us Oregonians, it almost made it perfect. 

Aid station crew

Marking the course

The registration crew

We had advertised registration to open at 4:15pm, and we had people waiting with food and money in hand!  The girls were practically giddy!  My parents were in town, so my Dad grabbed my camera and started taking pictures.  I was so happy he did!  By 4:30pm, when we had said the run would start, there were still people lined up waiting to register.  Wow.  I was so humbled by our community.  We had families, friends, strangers who had heard about it on Facebook, and teachers come out to support our Girls and their mission.  So so so grateful to everyone.  I counted at least 65 runners!  Amazing.

Runners waiting to register

Girls excited to get this run started!

Some last-minute instructions...

At 4:35, I gave the runners a few instructions, thanked everyone for coming out to help us help those in our community who are hungry, sent the girls off to their posts, and headed up to the track.  An anxious group of boys (my son included) were at the front of the line, ready to take off.  The girls counted them down, and they were off!  Each lap, runners were given a silly band so they could keep track of their distance.  After they collected 4 bands, they were led off the track to the finisher’s chute, where two of the girls waited with a finish banner and many lined the chute with High 5’s!  The aid station was a hit, and the girls even kept the track clean of cups for the runners.  

And they're OFF!

So many community members came out to support our cause

Lauren and I running our laps

The Finish Line!

Girls on the Run is SO much FUN!!!
Future Girls on the Run

When all of the runners had finished, Caryn and I gathered the girls together, and we ran one lap as a team.  As we rounded the corner of the track to the finish chute, we noticed that all of the participants had lined the chute with their arms in an arch for us to run through!  Smiles all around, and our hearts so so happy!  

Happy Girls...Happy Hearts!

When it was all said and done, we raised just over $200 and 3 wagon-loads of food (totaling 185 pounds) for the local food bank!  Now our girls have one last week before hitting the streets of downtown Portland with their Running Buddies for the Starlight Run 5K!

Doing good FEELS good!