A year or so ago, I signed up to be put on the waiting list on the Facebook group I Run 4 Michael. Created by Timothy Boyle, the group pairs runners with someone who is unable to run. The runner keeps in contact with his/her buddy and dedicates races and daily workouts. I was finally matched in April and what a cool and interesting experience it has been. I have dedicated a few running races and this years’ three triathlons to him, and we’ve developed a really cool relationship that I hope will continue as long as possible. We were matched around the time I registered for the Disney Marathon and I was excited to have a series of training runs and a race this length to run for him.

In the meantime, a few local runners have gotten together in hopes to open up a Girls With Sole chapter here in Charleston. This program started not too far from my hometown in Ohio, and its goal is to offer girls who have experienced or who are at risk of abuse the opportunity to participate in athletics. According to a PSA Keep Her In the Game, girls drop out of sports at 2x the rate of boys. A few facts from the GWS website:

  • Regular exercise improves overall quality of life.
  • Girls and women who play sports have a more positive body image than girls and women who do not participate.
  • Women who are active in sports and recreational activities as girls feel greater confidence in their physical and social selves than those who were sedentary as kids.
  • Research suggests that girls who participate in sports are more likely to experience academic success and graduate from high school than those who do not play sports

I am fortunate in that I have never suffered abuse nor was I at a particularly high risk for it, however, I can definitively speak about exercises’ benefits towards mental health. Running helped me through a tough relationship, a divorce, depression, anxiety, and the trials of new motherhood. It has taught me confidence and shown me that I am more capable than I thought, and there is simply no reason why every girl out there can’t reap the same benefits.

So this race I am sharing my dedication. I will not only be running for my I run 4 buddy, I will be running for Girls With Sole, and hope that by doing so I can help get the program started here in Charleston. If you are interested in donating, you can do so here. Where it says “dedicate your donation”, if you’d like to choose a runner (ME!), you can type her name in the box. 100$ covers the cost for the entire 12 week program for one girl. You can donate any flat amount or pledge an amount per mile.

These girls need the confidence, friendship and achievement that comes with running, and we can help make that happen.