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    Take a drive down any street in Louisville during daylight hours and it's clear that this is a running town. Locals from all backgrounds and with all experience levels are taking to the streets these days, thanks to the growing nation-wide running craze and Mayor Greg Fischer's own "Healthy Hometown" initiative. Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign, designed to end childhood obesity, has also prompted closer focus on the health of our youngest generation. Girls on the Run Louisville (GOTRL), a non-profit prevention program for girls in third through fifth grades, is tapping into this increase in awareness by hosting its 5K Fun-Run in Seneca Park on May 12.

    GOTRL began in Jefferson County Public Schools in the spring of 2010 and has only grown in popularity since. Its quarterly twelve-week program combines training for a 3.1-mile running event with workouts and a curriculum that promotes personal growth and self-esteem building. Its goal, according to its national office, is "to encourage positive emotional, social, mental, spiritual, and physical development," and by doing so, reduce "the potential display of at-risk activities among its participants," including adolescent pregnancies, eating disorders, depression, and substance abuse.

    As a non-profit program, GOTRL depends on the dedication of volunteers, who are also relied upon to provide positive role modeling for the participants, and community members are therefore encouraged to offer their time for the upcoming Fun-Run. Around 120 volunteers are needed for the race to set up and break down tents, decorate, and pass out medals to runners. Volunteer coaches are welcomed before the event to help in training the girls, and beginning this year, GOTRL is also seeking women to become "SoleMates." Teams or individuals can walk, run, or bike in any other event for charity and raise funds for GOTRL, while simultaneously spreading the mission of the organization beyond its members and volunteers. Anyone who signs up to be a SoleMate will be automatically entered in a drawing for a special Garmin Forerunner 210 refurbished watch. If free time is scarce for you but you'd still like to contribute, GOTRL welcomes any and all community contributions, such as food and supplies.

    The 5K Fun-Run is part of Mayor Greg Fischer's "Healthy Hometown" event and will be sponsored by UPS for the first time since the program's inception. If you would like to learn more about this dynamic program or becoming involved, visit GOTRL's website. If you would like more information specifically about volunteering for the Fun-Run, contact Kelley Fisher at

    Photo courtesy of Girls on the Run Louisville.

    Karen Ellestad's picture

    About Karen Ellestad

    When I was seven and my brother was eight, we both wrote to 'Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?' for a free t-shirt. Two weeks later his arrived in the mail, signed by Carmen Sandiego herself, accompanied by an autographed picture of the cast, an official membership to the 'Gumshoe Club,' and a Rockapella casette tape. I got a postcard.

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