5k Superhero Spotlight: Rachel Cohen

Today we shine the spotlight on Rachel Cohen, who will run/walk/skip the Girls on the Run end-of-season 5k and raise funds to support participants in our program!

Why did you decide to become a Superhero Runner for the Spring 5k and fundraise to support Girls on the Run?

I learned about GOTR from my college roommate, who started coaching with GOTR in her hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota last year. I loved the mission and approach – empowering young women through athletics and teamwork resonated right away for me – so I knew I wanted to get involved. My work schedule doesn’t allow me to coach right now, so I thought running the Spring 5K would be a great way to deepen my involvement and support the organization.

From there, the fundraising part is easy – I believe in the organization, so I was excited to let friends and family know about GOTR and to ask for their support. I also think it’s important to remember that every donation makes a difference, and that it’s all of our support together that makes it work.

What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you? 

I loved athletics from a young age and always played sports growing up. Being surrounded by a group of young women who felt, like I did, that being strong and driven is something cool for girls made a big difference in my life. That is an attitude I have had since, and it has increased my self-confidence and drive to succeed in athletics and in my professional life.

Being active and being part of an active community makes me feel stronger, happier, and more confident, and I think that’s what GOTR is all about. Helping girls find that at a young age will only make the next generation of women stronger, and empower them to make a difference in their communities and the world.

What do you think makes someone a Superhero?

I have been really lucky to have a number of women in my life who I think of as Superheroes, and in honor of Mother’s Day I’d have to start with my own mom and grandmothers. They are all extremely hard-working women, but also very humble. My grandma Toby overcame cancer multiple times in her life, my grandma Babs is still active in her community – from painting to politics – at age 89, and my mom has been working as a doctor taking care of newborn babies for 30 years. They are strong women who have shown me that I can do anything I want in my life if I work toward my goals. Heroes get the job done but they don’t brag about it, they are the often-quiet leaders who make a difference in their families and communities, even if they don’t get – or even want – all the credit.

Tell us a little bit about your running history!

I played sports growing up but was never a runner until I got to college and started playing ultimate Frisbee. It involves a lot of running, so our team ran to get into shape for long days of competition. When our team wasn’t practicing together, I started taking runs through my neighborhood after class, and realized it was an amazing way to clear my head and get to know my surroundings.

When I met my husband Colin about five years ago, I had to amp up my running game! He is a military veteran who was serving in the Army at the time so he ran almost every day, and I had to learn to keep up! We started running together on our off days and have been doing so ever since. I still like to run alone from time to time, but I also enjoy running with others, pushing each other and having fun together.

What do you do to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful?

In addition to runs in Prospect Park, I love to bike and walk around my neighborhood in Brooklyn and in new areas of the City. I find walking, jogging, and biking a great way to explore new places – and find new things to love in places I already know. I am trained as an urban planner, so I’m fascinated by how different all the neighborhoods of New York City are, and all the vibrancy or our streets, parks, and public spaces. Passing through on foot is a great way to experience that, and something that makes my active time really joyful. I also love to run, bike, and lift weights with my husband – we like to work out together to spend time together, and we push each other without being too competitive!

Any fun facts you want to share?

I’m 5 months pregnant, expecting my first child in the fall! I can’t wait to teach a child to be active as part of a happy, healthy lifestyle. Colin and I can’t wait until we can take our little family running and biking through Prospect Park and on other outdoor adventures around New York City.

Staying active through my pregnancy has helped me stay strong and positive, and so far I feel great. I do hope everyone will forgive me if I’m a little slow during the 5k! 

*GOTR team note: Our 5k is all about going at your own pace and having fun!

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl participating in her first 5k?

First off, you are way ahead of the curve – I ran my first 5K in college! – so be proud of yourself for taking on this challenge. And of course, enjoy the run. Races are a great way to get together with your friends and community, and the energy of being surrounded by a big group of people all working toward the same goal is awesome. Take it all in and have fun!

Thank you for all your support of Girls on the Run, Rachel! If you want to donate to Rachel's fundraising efforts, click here.

5k Superhero Spotlight: Carissa Schreiber

Today we shine the spotlight on Carissa Schrieber! Carissa will run/walk/skip the Girls on the Run end-of-season 5k and raise funds to support participants in our program!

Why did you decide to become a Superhero Runner for the Spring 5k and fundraise to support Girls on the Run?

I've been working with GOTR since college, where I was a Gamma Phi Beta sister. When I moved to New York, I didn't know many people, so GOTR was a great way for me to join a community and be productive at the same time. Working with the program has actually inspired me to re-introduce myself to fitness and working out, so the 5k ended up being both a fitness goal and a fundraising goal for me.

What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?

For me, Girls on the Run is all about empowering young women and giving them actual tools to accomplish goals. While there are a lot of wonderful movements and messages supporting the fact that girls can do anything they want to do, the Girls on the Run program puts that into action. I think giving the girls a concrete goal and showing them how to reach it helps build a positive and productive mindset for everything they go on to do. My two young sisters are both very confident, and I love that we can spread that attitude.

What do you think makes someone a Superhero?

As someone who's into comics, I have so many answers to this! But the most important quality for a real-life superhero, I think, is simply being a reliable force of good. From teachers to police officers to activists, there are so many people who work tirelessly to make the world better in some way. 

Tell us a little bit about your running history!

I only recently got into running, mostly due to my work with GOTR and my unwillingness to pay for a gym membership in the city. The thing I really have come to appreciate about running is how conducive it is to setting concrete goals. It's easy to see your progress and that helps keep me motivated.

What do you do to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful?

For me, occasional self-indulgence is the key to both my physical and mental health. While I love a lot of healthy foods and activities, sometimes I just need to get that chocolate cake or spend an entire Saturday on the couch (or both). It's easier for me to make healthy choices when I do feel like they are choices rather than obligations.

Any fun facts you want to share?

My home life revolves around my sweet cat, Minerva (although she always looks at me funny when I come back from a run).

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl participating in her first 5k?

You have worked hard to get here, and you made it! When you hit that finish line, know that you have earned it--no one else could do it for you or give it to you. It's an accomplishment that belongs to you.

Thank you, Carissa! If you want to help with Carissa's fundraising efforts, click here.

SoleMate Spotlight: Jen Fick

Today we shine the spotlight on Jen Fick! Jen will run the Brooklyn Half Marathon as a SoleMate for Girls on the Run NYC.

Why did you decide to become a SoleMate and fundraise to support Girls on the Run?

I was already signed up for the Brooklyn Half, so it seemed like a great way to give the miles extra meaning.

Why did you decided to sign up to run the Brooklyn Half Marathon?

I love this race - it will be my 4th time running it.  It's a terrific course, and you can't beat the boardwalk finish line.

What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?

I think it is so important to teach young girls about the value and strength of their bodies' that has nothing to do with their appearance, or their relationship to other people.  I also think that the the skills you learn while training for a distance benefits us outside of running.  Patience, perseverance, following through to achieve a goal, etc.

Tell us a little bit about your running history!

I've been running since 2012 - I signed up for my first half marathon to fundraise for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as a member of their Team in Training program.  I've been at it ever since.  I just ran my first full marathon this past fall in Philly, and last summer I completed my first Sprint Triathlon.  This will be my 9th Half Marathon.

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful?

I play drums in a band. I've been drumming since I was 15, and I love it.

Favorite place to run in NYC?

In NYC - Central park.  Across the river (where I live in NJ) - Liberty State park and the Hudson river waterfront.

Favorite time of day to run?

Early in the morning, especially in the summer.

Any other fun facts you want to share?

This half marathon will be my 9th - I hope to do my 10th by the end of the year.

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?

You can do it!  Don't worry about everyone else around you, or how fast you can go - run your own race.  You will be great!

Thank you so much, Jen! 

SoleMate Spotlight: Stephanie Peterson

Today we shine the spotlight on Stephanie Peterson! Stephanie is running the Buffalo Half Marathon as a SoleMate for Girls on the Run NYC!

Why did you decide to become a SoleMate and fundraise to support Girls on the Run?

My boyfriend's cousin was a SoleMate and she encouraged me to get involved! I read the mission of the program and thought it was a great cause to support.

Why did you decided to sign up to run the Buffalo Half Marathon?

I had always wanted to run a full marathon, so my New Year's Resolution for this year was to complete a half. This will be my first race of any kind!

What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?

It's so important for young girls to see themselves as strong and independent, and be aware of their self worth and capabilities. The Girls on the Run mission seeks to accomplish just that - it encourages young girls to become strong, independent, confident women through running. That's the sort of future I want for every young girl.

Tell us a little bit about your running history!

As I mentioned, this will be my first official race. I competed in track and field in high school and have always enjoyed running on my own so I'm looking forward to taking this to the next step.

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful?

I've just recently learned the importance of healthy cooking and eating. I was the sort of person who could screw up cereal (and was lucky enough to have a boyfriend who cooks) so I never really spent much time in the kitchen, but now I have put a lot of effort into learning to cook and eat healthy foods. I've really come to enjoy it!

Favorite post-run treat?

Banana, peanut butter, and almond milk smoothie.

Favorite time of day to run?

First thing in the morning.

Any other fun facts you want to share?

On top of training for my first half marathon, I am currently studying for the LSAT with the goal of attending law school next fall. Running helps to keep me energized and focused when I hit the books after a long day at work.

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?

Never forget your self worth and never give up. You'll be surprised what you're capable of when you believe in yourself!

Thank you so much Stephanie - and good luck on those LSATs! If you want to support Stephanie's fundraising efforts, you can visit her fundraising page here.

Volunteer Shoutout: Kim Bielak

Today we are giving a special shoutout to one of our Superstar Volunteers, Kim Bielak! Kim is an Events Volunteer with Girls on the Run NYC and a Founder of Class for a Cause. She helped build National Fitness Day - the first ever is on May 10th! As part of National Fitness Day, she has worked with fitness studios from NYC to LA to offer classes with proceeds that go to Girls on the Run.

What is the origin story of Class for a Cause?

The idea for Class for a Cause actually came out of a trip to Colombia I took last summer where I was really moved by seeing such a stark contrast between neighborhoods. For example, while you could hardly tell the difference between the tourist-centric neighborhood and Santa Monica with all the juice and salad bars, the area my good friend was living in at the time was just getting its first gym, and we saw parts of town where the residents didn't even have access to their own fresh fruits they were growing.

It took witnessing this first hand to realize that this wasn't just a phenomenon in Colombia, but also in my backyard, where access to workout classes and other health & wellness trends were just not attainable for everyone. I am such a strong believer in today's trends in health and wellness to have a positive impact on society, but I wanted a way that people could both do good for themselves and expand the reach of this impact outside their immediate community at the same time. The rest is history!


How did National Fitness Day come about?

It was entirely serendipitous! We were looking for a good day on which to host our first Class for a Cause event, and we absolutely could not believe it when after a ton of Googling we could not find an overarching National Fitness Day in the US!

Because we so strongly believe in the power of fitness to change lives, we decided to put a stake in the ground and declare one day to celebrate strength and empowerment through it. How cool would it be to have everyone across the country working out on the same day? Our goal is to fill the streets with runners and the studios with friends.


Why did you choose Girls on the Run? Why did you want to get more involved? 

We chose Girls on the Run to be our first year's beneficiary because the mission is perfectly aligned with our own - to expand the positive impacts of fitness, and where better than the next generation. We also felt that with 60% of girls receiving some sort of scholarship to be able to afford the program, we knew we were reaching a community that may not have many of these benefits otherwise.

I personally started volunteering for Girls on the Run shortly after I found them because I was inspired by the stories I heard from people connected with the organization, and it's pretty neat how supportive the community is in and of itself - through GOTR I've met so many other women who also believe in fitness and really just want to make a difference.


What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?

I am such a big believer that at the end of the day empowering our bodies empowers us at a much, much deeper level, so using an experience and running-based curriculum to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident resonated so much. I personally experienced running turn me into a much more confident and empowered person when I trained for my first half marathon. I thought I would never be a runner, and so I took so much pride in watching myself become stronger and stronger one step at a time. My job is done when everyone has had a chance to experience this feeling. 


How does empowering girls through Girls on the Run connect to Class for a Cause?

It is this exact empowerment that we aim to celebrate on Wednesday. For people to get their sweat on and do good for themselves, and to give back so that we can bring the same sense of joy and confidence to girls across the country in Girls on the Run programs.


Thank you, Kim! We're sending you a SuperStar Energy Award!


If you want to find a National Fitness Day class near you, click here for the full list of classes.

For a Class for a Cause shirt to support Girls on the Run, click here. And to join some GOTR volunteers for a Barry's Bootcamp class, click here