Studies have shown that girls begin to lose confidence at the young age of nine due to societal pressures and media influences. Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC is home to a council of Girls on the Run (GOTR), an international organization that works to replace that negativity through running, emphasizing the importance of goal-setting, teamwork, community service and a positive attitude. Third through eighth grade girls receive 24 lessons throughout the school year led by certified coaches, as well as a shirt, water bottle and entry into the GOTR 5k held at the end of the season.
To make such a comprehensive program possible, there is a fee to participate in GOTR. For more than a decade, the GOTR Sneaker Bash has been helping fund scholarships for Magee’s council. All proceeds from the event support girls who would not otherwise have the financial means to participate in the program.
“The Sneaker Bash is critical to our mission, which is to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident. We are thankful that we have never had to turn a girl away from our program for financial reasons and can continue to inspire girls to develop self-respect and value healthy lifestyles,” said Ellen Giarrusso, GOTR program coordinator.
This year’s event was held on Saturday, October 17 at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. 120 guests watched glass blowing demonstrations while enjoying appetizers from local eatery Kaya, as well as wine, beer and delicious desserts. An extensive silent auction featured prizes ranging from Disney World passes to Penguins tickets to running equipment, and the grand prize raffle basket was filled with GOTR paraphernalia. Guests could also participate in a wine pull, buying a cork with a random number that corresponded to a concealed bottle of wine they could then take home.
A key feature of the event was the “Happiness Wall,” made up of photos from recent seasons as well as hand-drawn pictures and words of wisdom from GOTR participants. The wall highlighted the most recent accomplishment for GOTR- 10,000 girls have participated in the program, and that number continues to grow. One girl at a time, Girls on the Run is working to inspire healthy bodies and positive minds.
“The girls are so sweet. The wisdom that comes out of their mouths is astounding,” said Giarrusso. “When you give them positive thinking skills, it’s amazing to see what good things come out.”
For more information about Girls on the Run of Magee-Womens Hospital, visit the program’s website.