On May 21 at 8am, Gracie Applegarth arrived at Westfield Montgomery to set off on a 5k run. She joined other young girls who were running to make a difference — running to empower girls everywhere to follow their dreams.
The run was held by Girls on the Run, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and inspires them to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.
The key beliefs of the organization include nurturing the heart and soul of the young girls so they can lead with an open mind and express gratitude and joy for their own life.
It also teaches them, inadvertently, about discipline,
For Gracie, she trained and trained so she could complete the 5K run.
“When you sign up for Girls on the Run, you practice hard trying to work towards being able to run the 5K, it’s like baby steps,” she says.
” I worked really hard, and being able to finally run it felt like a really big accomplishment, plus, I got to run with Miss Rosita who I really like a lot as my running buddy!”
Gracie says she trained her butt off.
“We had practice every Wednesday from 3:30 -5:00, and every Sunday from 3:30 – 5:00,” she explains.
And, she accomplished her goal.
What was the best part about the day?
“The best part of the day was running with Rosita Fanning and having my hair painted with my friends, Jemiella, Jane, and Isabelle before the run,” she recalls.
So, what does Kindness and Hope mean to Gracie?
“Kindness and hope means a lot to me, like my cat means to me, and my family, friends, and other things that I love mean to me,”she says. “I think it’s very important to be kind. My mommy always tells me how important it is to be kind to others, because even if they’re mean, it shows that they’re not very happy and sometimes when your kind to those people that maybe it might cheer them up and make them nicer. She says It’s very easy to be kind but sometimes it can make a very big difference for others. Hope is important because everyone needs to have hope so that they’ll never ever give up.”
It’s not a surprise to learn that her “mommy” Lora is incredibly proud of the diligent and dedicated daughter she has raised.
“I’m very proud of her, she’s very intelligent, tenacious, self aware, has a very strong sense of herself and isn’t afraid to speak up against things she thinks are wrong,” Lora explains.
So, what does Kindness and Hope mean to Lora?
She tells us: “Wow, this isn’t going to be a casual short answer! I think kindness and hope are very important foundations for all people to have. It is especially important in today’s world because there seems to be a lot of animosity and anger. Too often there’s a large focus on the negative, I think it really affects people’s attitudes. When I started teaching, my director taught me that it’s important to always state the positive before going to anything negative. You should always start and end with positive, and anything negative should be put as positively as possible.
“My parents taught me the importance of charity and ‘random acts of kindness’ from an early age. Hope is essential these days! I hate these shows, games, etc glorifying suicide, that to me is the ultimate loss of hope! Children and even some adults need to realize that while it would be nice if everyone were civilized, kind, and respectful, that’s not the world we live in, and it will likely never be. It is important to have your own sense of hope, own it. We need to teach our children and sometimes even ourselves, that we need to focus on positive things and be good people, even when those around us aren’t. We can’t count on others to give us hope or we may be let down. Instead, we need to find it from within, and be accountable for our own happiness and hope. Then, when others demonstrate kindness and hope worthy acts, we can be pleasantly surprised and it can be looked at as a bonus. Granted, hope is easier to have when there is kindness, and kindness is often very simple. One of my favorite quotes is: “Always be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle…” it’s often quoted as being said by Plato, but it was actually Ian Maclaren (AKA Rev. John Watson). ‘”
Girls on the Run of Montgomery County (GOTR MoCo) is an independent council of Girls on the Run International. GOTR MoCo was established in 2007 by Eve Mills. Today, GOTR MoCo serves nearly 5000 girls each year with the support of approximately 600 coaches each season. GOTR MoCo has served more than 25,000 girls over the past ten years and has provided over 1 million dollars in financial assistance to families in need.