The win-win when one mother runner’s community giving brings much more in return
Moms on the Run participant Heather Thoele (back right) serves as head coach for this Girls on the Run team from White Bear Lake. Registration for the Nov. 12, 2016, GOTR 5K remains open to the public.
For second-year Moms on the Run participant Heather Thoele, it wasn’t enough to simply focus on her own running program and progress. This fall, she branched out to add mentoring young girls to the mix, thanks to Girls on the Run.
As head coach of White Bear Lake YMCA Girls on the Run, Heather leads one of the 70-plus teams that have been meeting at Twin Cities area schools and community centers for the last 10 weeks.
“I got involved [with Girls on the Run] because I know the benefits I've received from being involved in an all-female running group, and I wanted to help pass that along to younger girls and women,” says Heather. “I believe that running with a supportive group of girls or women can help boost self-esteem and confidence that so many girls and women are missing.”
Girls on the Run is a curriculum-based youth development program for girls in 3rd to 8th grade. Each week, volunteer coaches like Heather inspire them to build life skills and be healthy and confident. She admits that she’s gained so much by watching her team’s growth since they first came together in September.
Heather (back left) poses with other members of the White Bear Lake YMCA Girls on the Run team following a fall 2016 practice.
“I'm constantly surprised by how positive these girls are and how thoughtful and complex their answers are to difficult questions and scenarios,” says Heather. “I'm seeing them form friendships with the other girls and watching them become bolder in sharing their thoughts with the group. These are things that I'm hoping will stick, long-term.”
On Nov. 12, 2016, some 1,100 girls and their coaches will participate in the Girls on the Run 5K at Harriet Island in St. Paul. The celebratory, non-competitive 5K is also open to members of the public -- men, women and children.
Participants can register as a solo runner or take their commitment one step further by signing up as a race-day “Sparkle Runner.” Sparkle Runners are women from the community willing to be paired with a girl the morning of the 5K and help celebrate her accomplishment! Registration fees support the GOTRTC program.
Heather encourages MOTR and non-MOTR members alike to get an up-close look at Girls on the Run in action at the Nov. 12 event.
“Both Moms on the Run and Girls on the Run are all about fitness, fun and friendships!” Heather says. “More importantly, though, both groups help participants learn more about themselves and show them that they're capable of accomplishing more than they thought possible. I love that I'm coaching girls who may become #MOTRstrong one day!”
Race organizers are in need of more Sparkle Runners and race day volunteers. MOTR members are encouraged to join Team Moms on the Run when they sign up. To register and for more information, visit www.gotrtwincities.org/5ks.