Sharing the SPARK at GOTR

In 2014, not long after I got more serious about running, I found someone in my running group who was involved in our local Girls on the Run chapter and I reached out.  I had been watching the website and wanted to get involved, but the 5ks prior were held on weekends I was busy. Lucky for me, the 5ks weren't the only option for getting involved. I ended up signing up to be part of the 5k planning committee (to make sure I was available) and also as a Solemate (the fundraising portion of GOTR).

In the 3 years since working GOTR, I have helped plan four 5ks, been a Solemate 4 times (including this year), and have had a blast every step of the way. While I wasn't officially on the planning committee for this spring season, I did get to help out with a special group of people we like to call "Spirit Runners." The purpose of this group is to 1. wear a pink cape and be awesome, and 2. to cheer on all the girls and their running buddies. As we all know, sometimes running can get tough; we get stuck in our heads and want to throw in the towel, but there's always that something or someone that inspires us to keep going. Spirit runner's are just that.

The awesome added twist was that we paired up with Momentum Jewelry and their Spark Crew initiative to hand out a little extra "spark" of spirit and cheer along the way. What does that mean? They sent us some awesome SPARKlets that read "You got this" to give out to a limited number of girls to remind them that are so strong and can push through to complete their 5k. I was so caught up in it all that I never even got to take a picture of them before we gave them all away.

We ended up with about 10 total spirit runners and 7 of us split up the SPARKlets to hand out. It was so fun to see the spark in the eyes of each girl we handed one out to. They got a special surprise and a great reminder that would last way beyond the race they were running. 

That's the great thing about both Girls on the Run and the SPARKlets from Momentum; they both encourage girls and women to be everything they want to be even when we are scared, anxious, or facing a tough situation in life. Girls on the Run provides so many great life skills to school aged girls when they need it the most. Momentum provides awesome reminders in all shapes and sizes for all ages. They  go hand in hand, a perfect match. 

Don't worry, the Spirit Runner crew wasn't female only. We did have the awesome Leo (and his cowbell) but hopefully next time I can get another guy or two to help out. Leo was awesome and I saw him multiple times up on the park benches cheering his heart out. A mile or so of the race actually runs straight through Hershey Park, how cool is that?!

As Spirit Runners, we got to run in so many girls and share their joy in crossing the finish line even after those tough and not so fun parts. Watching these girls finish their race actually reminded me a lot of when I first started running and how hard a 5k felt. It is so satisfying to cross that finish line, no matter the distance. 

We may have borrowed some pom-poms from the wonderful ladies that came from Thirty-One to volunteer all over the place. Yep, I ran the entire thing with it and it was SO FUN!! 

I think this was the entire crew before we got started. Clearly Leo was bursting at the seams with spirit! Pretty good looking crew for super early in the morning, right?

I have to share this one little story. This little girl and  I shared quite a bit of time together during the 5k. Around the one mile mark, I was flagged down by a woman saying that this little lady had lost her mom. She was running ahead of her mom and completely lost sight of her at some point and was worried. The awesome part is that she was super brave and agreed to keep running and we would figure it out. While we were running, I decided she needed one of the bracelets. Here she was, planning to run the 5k and keep somewhat close to her mom and now she had no idea where she was. Once it seemed like she was comfortable, I asked her if she would be ok with me heading back through the race to see if anyone else needed some extra cheers. She said she was, so I went and did my thing. At some point, I actually ended up finding her again. She was still moving along and had a smile on her face. This time, I stuck with her to the finish line. She talked about how she was excited to go to breakfast with her mom after the race, but hadn't yet decided where she wanted to go. This made me smile. When I was in college, my mom would come up to go to breakfast and shopping with me and we always had so much fun. As I have gotten older, we don't get as many opportunities to spend time like that together, but it is always a good time. Back to my point though. As we got closer to the finish line, I told her we could go in and have them announce her name so we could find her mom. Next thing I know, she is telling me that she had this plan with her mom about where they would meet at the end in the event they got separated. Needless to say, she crossed the finish line and headed to her meeting place to wait for her mom. Knowing the awesome people that make up the GOTR community, I knew she would be ok until her mom crossed the finish line. I was so tickled when her mom posted the picture above from their breakfast together. She sure is one sweet little girl and I am so glad I got to share that time with her. 

Ok I lied. One more (quicker) story. I was running along cheering and doing my thing, when maybe a half mile from the finish I saw this girl and her dad walking. I asked her if she thought we could run to the finish line. She agreed and next thing I know, we were trying to keep up with her! She really took off and amazed us both. Not sure what she might have done had I not come by, but it sure was cool to see her flip the switch and run the rest of the race so STRONG. 

After our cheering duties were done, we returned our pom-poms and got a cowbell and really awesome pens. Those Thirty-One ladies sure are awesome!! 

In case you couldn't tell, I had an absolute blast that day. I may have been up at 4 am, ran 5 miles during the race (plus another 3 with friends after) and was exhausted at the end of it all, but I wouldn't trade a single thing. 

I even got to see my mom and her friend Sheri a little bit. My mom is such an amazing supporter of all the crazy things I do and has attended quite a few 5ks since I became involved with GOTR. I even got to sneak up on them once or twice during the race while I was out buzzing around. My mom is not a runner, but has walked many miles over the years as she participates in events for good causes. I guess the apple doesn't fall from the tree? 

And of course, girls just wanna have fun!! We hopped in the photo booth as the line was trickling down and got really goofy. I loved that they put our pics together in this little montage.. makes me laugh!!

I really enjoy working with GOTR and am so glad that I got to be part of this amazing day. A huge thanks to Momentum Jewelry for letting us share the SPARK with this amazing group of young girls and their biggest supporters.  I hope that we get the opportunity to do this again because there is really nothing that compares and we got lots of feedback about how we brightened the day of so many just by handing out these adorable SPARKlets.

Have you ever run a 5k with your local GOTR chapter? 

*note: I am an ambassador for Momentum Jewelry and they sent me these bracelets to hand out. I was in no way compensated for this post, other than the perks of being an ambassador with them (which is awesome!!) I love their products and all views are my own. I also work with GOTR as a volunteer and was not paid in any way to share my story.I truly love and enjoy working with both of these crews and am grateful for the opportunity to do so.*


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