Lighting the Flame is a series dedicated to recognizing the efforts of organizations that work to empower women and girls across the world. These organizations keep families and communities alive by ensuring that the flames of these women and girls are fully lit and prepared to shine as they begin to tap into the power within. .
I’m a fish. At least that’s what I’ve heard all of my life from those who have seen me in a pool or in the ocean.
I love the water. Swimming is by far one of my favorite things to do in this world. My childhood is full of memories like swimming camp in Trinidad (where my grandparents live) and diving off cliffs in Jamaica with my father and his soccer teammates.
Despite my love for this form of physical activity and my few years on my high school’s swim team, by no means am I athletic. Those years in high school were the only athletic years of my life, and even then I did everything I could to avoid participating in swim meets. To be honest, I only wanted a way to be in the pool a few times a week.
Fast forward to 2009 when I found a new love: running.
Don’t you just love discovering new passions? There’s something about discovering that new thing that you can’t believe was missing from your life for so long.
Back in March I wrote about this new addition to my life. Before that my relationship with running was always complex. Mostly, I was always that person who wished she could enjoy running but just couldn’t for some reason. But this had changed, and it suddenly felt so empowering. Wanting to continue building on that feeling, in November I decided to pursue one of my bucket list goals and signed up for my first 5K.
You can only imagine how nervous I was! The exciting part, though, was that I had signed up to be a running buddy for the Girls on the Run DC 5K. Girls on the Run (GOTR) is a national nonprofit focused on the development of girls in the 3rd-8th grade.
Being a pre-teen isn’t easy. GOTR understands that and focuses its curriculum on building girls up physically, emotionally, mentally and socially. The culmination of the 10-12 week program is the 5K race that puts all of their hard work to the test. So on December 12th I joined hundreds of girls in DC as they partnered up with their coaches and running buddy volunteers to run what was for many of them their first race.
I’m pretty confident that this is the most amazing race any girl could ever participate in. My favorite pre-race activity included warming up – aka dancing – to Justin Bieber and Willow Smith and whipping my non-existent hair with my running buddy, her fifth-grade peers, and their running buddies and coaches. (However, if I had arrived earlier and had the opportunity to get my face painted and hair dyed – temporary dye, of course – my opinion might be different.)
Once the race started, my buddy and I fought the cold rainy weather together all the way to the end. I will admit that there was lots of pulling, shoelace tying, stops for juice and hand holding along the way… even a bathroom break within the first fifteen minutes of the race. But it was all in the name of getting across that finish line together, which we did!
It was a phenomenal experience. I’m proud to have supported an organization committed to the holistic development of girls while at the same time accomplishing a goal of my own. .
Girls on the Run SoleMates
As a result of my connection with the GOTR mission and my love for running I’m continuing my commitment to the organization by running as a SoleMate in the Suntrust National Half Marathon in March. As a SoleMate I am a part of GOTR's adult charity running program, thereby committing to fundraising on behalf of the organization.
Girls on the Run truly embodies what Lighting the Flame represents to me. Through their commitment to promoting physical and emotional health as well as healthy self-esteem GOTR gives young girls the confidence to accomplish anything they set their minds to. Even beyond that, they’ve inspired and empowered me to achieve my own personal goals.
*Shameless Plug Alert* My goal is to raise
$300 $500 by race day (March 26th). Will you consider donating by visiting my race website? I truly appreciate any amount you are able to contribute.
For more information on Girls on the Run check out the really inspiring videos below (I couldn’t just choose one!). You can also visit the Girls on the Run website (www.gotr.org) to find out how you can get involved.
Girls on the Run: The Finish Line is Just the Beginning