Girls on Run Spring 5K set for Saturday
Winchester — Kim Palmer’s favorite moment of the Girls on the Run Spring 5K is watching the young girls as they make it across the finish line.
After training for 12 weeks through the Girls on the Run program, the transformation many of the girls have made is visible in their smiles, their self-confidence, and their ability to finish the race, said Palmer, coach and vice president of the Girls on the Run board.
“I love to see their faces after they come across the finish line. It is that last confidence boost,” said Palmer, of Frederick County, who coached a team at John Kerr Elementary School.
The race will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday at Jim Barnett Park in Winchester. Pre-registration and packet pickup will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the Fireman’s Shelter. Race entry is $20 for adults and $10 for participants under 18.
The 105 girls from nine schools who participated in the program this season won’t be the only runners in the co-ed race, since it is open to the public, said Allison Major, council director of Girls on the Run of Winchester Inc., which puts on the event.
But empowering them and letting them know they are special is the focus of the event, Major said. Before the race starts, there will be stations where girls can decorate their hair and nails, learn more about fighting bullying, and participate in other activities.
The Virginia Avenue Charlotte DeHart Choir will sing the national anthem for the fourth time, she said.
Participants in the race may run or walk the course, which goes through the park, Shenandoah University, and along Pleasant Valley Road, Major said.
New this year, the program will combine its season end with a shoe drive for ShoeBox Recycling, which sends donated gently used shoes to people in need, she said.
“It seemed like a good fit for us because we are trying to show the girls they can make a difference in the world,” she said.
That attitude has always been at the heart of Girls on the Run, an after-school program that promotes health, self-esteem and confidence in girls, Major said. It is aimed at third- to fifth-graders. A companion program, Girls on Track, for sixth-to eighth-graders is only held in the fall.
The cost of the program is $150, which helps cover training for the coaches, program and race day T-shirts for the girls, and supplies and snacks for their training sessions, she said.
Proceeds from the race help fund income-based scholarships for girls who want to participate in the program but cannot afford the $150 fee, Major said. About 27 percent of girls have a full scholarship and 25 percent a partial scholarship.
Girls on the Run has two 5K races each year at the end of the spring and fall training sessions, Major said. The first race was held in fall 2011.
The spring season was delayed a little this year until there were enough girls participating at the nine sites, she said. This included five returning Winchester City Public schools and first-time participants D.G. Cooley Elementary School in Berryville, Powhatan School in Boyce, Snowden Bridge Community Center in Stephenson, and Winchester Academy.
“We had enough girls at every site, and a couple of our sites we filled completely. It was a really great season,” she said.
During the program, the girls meet at least once a week to train, go over lessons, play games, and do a large service project voted on by the group, Palmer said. At John Kerr, the girls baked cookies to give to the teachers, cafeteria helpers, and other employees as their service project this season.
“It opens their eyes a little bit about how a small group of people can have an impact on a much larger group,” she said. “They are also showing gratitude.”
The message of making a difference in the world around them will be extended this year with the ShoeBox Recycling program. Girls on the Run will collect gently used shoes to send to the program in Pennsylvania, said Lisa Pomerantz, vice president of marketing and business development for the group.
The shoes are then sent either to people in need in the United States or to those in countries such as Sierra Leone, Bolivia, Chile, Tunisia and Guatemala in hopes of making the world a “little smaller, a little friendlier and a little greener,” she said.
“We started the program with the idea of finding a way to put some humanity behind textile recycling,” Pomerantz said.
As an added bonus, the local Girls on the Run chapter receives 50 cents a pound for every pound donated, she said.
Donations will be taken on race day, but people can also drop them off at Wilkins Shoe Center, 7 S. Loudoun St.; Instant Replay Sports, 221 Commonwealth Court; Union First Market Bank, Stonewall Plaza, 200 Rivendell Court, and Snowden Bridge Residence Center, 119 Buccaneer Court, Stephenson.
The program needs all kinds of gently used shoes except heavy winter boots, roller skates, bedroom slippers, and flip-flops, she said.
Girls on the Run of Winchester Spring 5K will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday at Jim Barnett Park. Preregistration and packet pickup will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the Fireman’s Shelter. Race entry is $20 for adults and $10 for participants under 18.
— Contact Laura McFarland at email@example.com