Today, we are thrilled to spotlight Nicole, a long-time 5k volunteer, member of our Communications Committee, and a Girls on the Run NYC fundraiser through the 5k! Each season, Nicole also brings friends to join and support our girls through her “Team Run Happy!” Read on to hear from Nicole about her experience as a 5k volunteer and what Girls on the Run means to her.
Tell us about what it’s like to volunteer at the Girls on the Run 5k:
I certainly wanted to help, but I couldn't have predicted how much fun it would be. Yes, our job as course marshals is to make sure the girls are safe but, for the most part, we spend our time out there cheering them on! I always leave feeling excited and inspired.
And each season you bring friends to join in the 5k fun! Tell us more about that:
Everything is always more fun with friends! After volunteering at the 5K a few years ago, my first thought was how much my running buddies would love it too. We're a tight-knit group of female runners who support and push each other, and I knew they'd want to get involved. But now my teams has grown to encompass a group of men and women who love running and love coming out to cheer on the girls at the 5K!
Each 5k is a special experience for everyone involved. Tell us about some of your favorite moments:
For the spring 5K, I was stationed at the northern tip of Roosevelt Island by the lighthouse. The first wave of girls speeding past were impressive and amazing, the mass of girls that passed in the middle were so happy and heartwarming, but the girls at the end were the ones that really needed us.
We greeted grimaces with smiles and high fives and encouraged them to keep going, and they really took it to heart. I can't tell how many times I shouted, "You're doing great! Keep it up!" and a runner would look at me like, "Who, me?" They really take it to heart; for the girls it isn't just a standard cheer but a commentary on their personal performance and an acknowledgment that they are succeeding.
Seeing the girls realize what they are capable of achieving is just such a wonderful and inspiring experience.
Why is inspiring girls to be healthy and confident a part of your life?
I have very distinct memories of being asked to run a timed mile in middle school. That terror in the pit in the pit of my stomach, the stress, and the feeling of it never ending. I was convinced that no person could run a mile and that the kids who effortlessly finished in less than 10 minutes must possess some sort of superhuman powers. I struggled a lot with confidence back then too, and I'm sure these two things weren't unrelated.
Fast forward 10 years and I was running half marathons and marathons. Distance running gave me confidence and a real sense of accomplishment. It made me love my body, how strong it had become, and what it could achieve.
But I'll never forget what it felt like to be that shy little girl who didn't think she was good enough. I wish I could tell her what running would mean to her and what she could achieve, but it means so much to me that I can do that for girls now through Girls on the Run. Girls have to deal with negative messages all the time telling them they're not worthy or good enough, but Girls on the Run combats that with a positive message telling girls they're strong and capable, and I think that's just the most wonderful thing.