Volunteering with GOTR

Rise and Shine for Girls on the Run

I remember when I was in 3rd grade, my mom would have to drag me out of bed just to get to school on time. When I went to my first Girls on the Run practice at Welch Elementary at 7:30am I expected the girls to be half asleep, but they were far from it. They were putting on their matching blue and pink shoes and running around the gym before practice started. “I like having practice in the morning before school because you get the girls that really want to be there.” said Coach Cindy Venuto. Cindy has been coaching Girls on the Run for many seasons along with the help of other teachers at Welch Elementary. Together they have helped teach hundreds of girls about physical, mental, and emotional health.

Girls on the Run (GOTR) is a program for girls in 3rd-8th grade that promotes a healthy lifestyle. Coaches lead teams through discussions, activities, and running games over the course of the ten-week program. The season culminates with a celebratory 5K that the girls run at the end of the season along with their teammates, coaches, and running buddies.

Girls on the Run helps girls build confidence while making friends along the way. At my second practice, in the middle of the season, the girls ran up to me and said that they had to show me their cheer. Together all 13 of them performed a cheer about how Northwest GOTR is the best. Some of the girls were so shy that they didn’t even want to tell me their names at the beginning of the season were now showing me a cheer along with their new friends. The girls said that GOTR made it easier to make friends and to express themselves to each other.

When I asked the girls something that they wanted to do in the next 5 years, I got some great responses. They wanted to do things like get straight A’s, exercise more, run on the track team, help raise money for GOTR, run the Flying Pig, and even become a fashion designer. The coaches kept telling me that this was a great group of girls and they wish that all of their students were as kind and respectful as them, and after visiting the team a few times I could see why. Not once did I see the girls get in a fight or say anything mean to each other. When they were randomly matched up for an activity, they would cheer and hug when they found out who their partner was even if it wasn’t their best friend on the team.

I was also involved in Girls on the Run as a SoleMate. SoleMates raise money for GOTR while training for a race of their choice. I ran the Flying Pig Half Marathon and it was so encouraging to see my name on a Girls on the Run sign while running up the never-ending hill into Eden Park or having strangers cheer me on just because I had a GOTR tank on.

The Girls on the Run 5K is an awesome event to end the season. The girls got their hair spray painted, made tiaras, and wore tutus and capes along with their matching shirts. After seeing girls from all of the GOTR teams in Cincinnati at the 5K, I was so glad I got involved in this organization. I hope that one day some of them will grow up and have the chance to run in races like me. I can’t wait until next season!

After talking to Cindy and the other coaches, I found out that a lot of the girls on the Welch Elementary team were on scholarships. GOTR of Greater Cincinnati serves over 2,500 girls per year with over 50% of them requiring scholarships to participate. They wouldn’t be able to be part of GOTR without the financial support of their communities as well as hours of time the coaches dedicate to them. If you are interested in donating to Girls on the Run, becoming a SoleMate, or volunteering as a coach or at an event, please visit https://www.gotrcincinnati.org to learn more.