June 2nd, Corvallis will be overrun with hundreds of self-empowered, confident young girls celebrating their commitment to a healthy lifestyle. This year, young women grades 3rd-8th and their 5k Buddy will participate in the fourth annual Girls on the Run 5k to mark the end of their 2012 season. The 10 week program is a life-changing, experiential learning program meant to inspire self-respect and healthy lifestyles in pre-teen girls. The program combines physical training with uplifting, self-esteem boosting workouts. Part of an international program, the council is hosted by an outreach program of the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. This year Girls on the Run Willamette Valley has expanded to not only include Benton County, but Linn County as well. In the coming year, Polk, Marion, and Lincoln Counties will also join the Girls on the Run family, as well as Warm Springs Reservation.
A lot of people think, “I’m not a ‘runner’.” GOTR has volunteers, 5K Running Buddies, and SoleMates that ranges from age 19-60! A major feature of GOTR is that any girl grades 3rd-8th can participate regardless of their running ability. To help ensure each participant’s success, every girl in GOTR for the Willamette Valley received a new pair of running shoes for the season. The program is also non-competitive and encourages girls of all shapes, sizes, and abilities to do their best. The benefits of the girls’ participation can be seen at school, in the home, and throughout the community. Girls have the opportunity to make new friends, build their self-esteem and respect, and improve their overall health while having fun after school. The curriculum also includes community service projects for the girls. The program is 90% volunteer run, giving local families and businesses a common cause while building personal and professional development.
The Willamette Valley chapter has exceeded all of its five-year goals before the beginning of year four! Program Director, Karen Swanger, sees this as a sign that the area is excited about the program. In the monthly planning committee meetings Karen often uses the analogy of grant writing to talk about setting goals. When writing a grant for funding don’t ask for what you think you can get, ask for what you really want (need). This philosophy has encouraged everyone involved with GOTR to think big. The community has stepped up to help meet the demands of the growing program’s need for coaches, Running Buddies, donations, sponsors, and parent support. One such show of support has been enrollment in the SoleMates program. SoleMates is the adult charity running leg of GOTR. They are male and female athletes who pursue individual goals, such as running a marathon or participating in a triathlon, to raise money for their local GOTR council. Some of the events completed by our 2012 SoleMates include: Pacific Crest Half Marathon, San Diego Rock n Roll, Surf City USA Marathon, Great Pumpkin Run, and the Corvallis Half Marathon. These events in themselves support wonderful causes and charities, and GOTR is proud to be part of that support system.
The big finish for the season is a 5K on Oregon State campus beginning and ending at Reser Stadium. A pre-event Beaver Fun Run includes three races for children 3-12 years old starting at 9:00am. The Run To Benny (ages 3-4) is a 50 yd dash, followed the Beaver Bolt , a 500 yd race for 5-7 year olds, and a 1K for the 8-12 year olds. These events are for the whole family to enjoy and participate in before the 5K at 10:00am. The 5K is a huge accomplishment and every year all the staff, coaches, Running Buddies, SoleMates, volunteers, their families, and community are so proud to see them finish!
Girls On The Run is still in need of donations, sponsorships, 5K Running Buddies, and race volunteers. You can visit the Girls On The Run Willamette Valley website online to make a donation or become a sponsor at: http://www.gotrwillamette.org. The program uses funding to pay for curriculum packets, practice boxes full of supplies and snacks for the after-school meetings, running shoes for every participant, facilities for the 5K, and more. If you’re looking for ways to help at the race volunteers are needed for the water stations, gear check, vendor booths, check in, and finish line at Reser Stadium. Training sessions for the 5K Running Buddies are coming up this Sunday May 20th and on Wednesday May 30th. Please visit Girls on the Run at their web page (http://www.gotrwillamette.org), Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/GOTRWillametteValley), or their office in Langton Hall Rm 125 on OSU campus.