Girls On The Run

I am beyond thrilled to be on my way in completing one of my main marathon goals this year before true training season even begins. Each time I run the Chicago Marathon I am blown away by the support that the entire city shows to the runners. Until you have experienced it yourself you will never truly understand the overwhelming appreciation of complete strangers cheering you on and chanting your name. One of the other unbelievable factors of the day is to see all of the runners supporting charities of their choosing. Did you know that the Chicago Marathon raises over $15 million?!

Each time I have ran the marathon (including this go-around) I have been selected for guaranteed entry – meaning that I do not have to run through a charity in order to participate. It is not about the have to. It is about the want to. Through running my second marathon I learned about the organization called Girls on the Run in Chicago. The more and more I learned about them I knew that if I ever participated in the race again, I would support this organization while doing it.

Now, what is Girls on the Run? GOTR is a nationwide organization, but I will personally be supporting the Chicago sector. A group of amazing women step up as coaches and organize after school programs for girls that focus on teaching them how to be joyful, healthy, and confident. They spend time with these girls each day, over a 10 week program, encouraging them and giving them a safe space to learn how to challenge and appreciate themselves. They even train for a complete a 5k race! Unbelievable.

Now, why does this hit home? One, knowing that these women take time out of their lives to give these girls a safe space to go to after school is enough for me to begin speaking passionately about this. However, the focus of their time – on health, positivity, and being active – just sends it over the top. I say all of the time that I could not imagine being a young girl growing up the way the world is today. I fear that so many young girls spend their days comparing themselves against others and going home after school just to scroll through social media. When I was young we spent all of our time playing and creating outdoors. Heck, in the summer time if we wanted to play board games (always Monopoly) we set up a table in the garage.

My entire life I have been surrounded by the most strong, independent, and successful women. The best parts of me are definitely not self-made. They are a result of the environments and people I have had surrounding me and I am very lucky to have been given those opportunities and relationships. 85% of the girls who participate in this program need and utilize financial assistance in order to participate. If this fundraiser can help even one girl have a safe space and a smile, then it is all most definitely worth it!

Please consider donating to GOTR through my link below!:

https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/2019-gotr-chicago-marathon/laurenheikkinen