I’ve volunteered in a lot of ways over the last 15 years. My first volunteer job was at my hometown public library the summer I turned 15 – I had the sweet task of transferring every, single book from card catalog reference to computer bar code checkout. (That’s right, folks!) Since then I’ve helped with United Way, Junior League, university-sponsored programs and more. But the past couple of months as part of the Girls on the Run San Diego 5K Committee have been extra rewarding.
Last Sunday was the big day for the Sparkle and Shine 5K held at Marina Park South along the Embarcadero. What an incredibly inspiring morning! I was in charge of the start/finish line activities, including setting up the delineators and start line flags and organizing the runners into waves, to handing out finisher’s medals to all 1,085 runners. I had a great group of women on my team, and couldn’t have done it without them. (Note: Out of respect for the girls and their families, I tried to use photos that didn’t feature the runners.)
I loved watching about 440 young girls – who had trained for the past three months – get psyched to run the 5K with their running buddies. While many girls had their moms or dads with them, it was so fun to watch the girls who had been paired with running buddies light up once the waves began to move toward the start line.
Watching the girls start and finish was incredibly rewarding for me, but the defining moment of the day was when I went out to around the 2-mile mark/water station to watch the girls from that point. One little girl running alone looked like she was struggling a bit, and so I asked her if she would like me to run the last mile with her. She hesitated, but then said “yes,” and off we went toward the finish line.
After she finished and received her medal, she looked at me and asked why I didn’t have a medal (I had declined taking one since I was a volunteer). I told her that I didn’t need one; that I hadn’t run the whole race like she had. It was at that moment I was reminded how very black and white the world is for a child (we adults are the ones who introduce all of the gray areas) because she said, “Of course you get a medal. You finished the race.” And so I took a medal.
Running with a girl on Sunday wasn’t what I had volunteered for, but it ended up being the best part of the entire experience for me. GOTR is an incredibly inspiring and empowering organization for young girls, and if there is a chapter in your city I encourage you to get involved!
Have a great day!
How about you?
Are you involved with an inspiring organization and would like to share?