Hundreds flooded into the Wicker Memorial Park Social Center wearing their best cocktail attire accompanied by their favorite pair of sneakers. The energy that radiated throughout the ‘Sneaker Soirée’ screamed Girl Power and togetherness while one common goal circled in everyone’s mind: raising $25,000 for Girls on the Run of Northwest Indiana.
“We’re here tonight to make sure we can continue to provide the GOTR program to every girl who wants to do it, no matter if they can afford it or not, what county they’re in, or what school they go to,” said Jill Schlueter-Kim, Executive Director of Girls on the Run of Northwest Indiana. “We want every girl in Northwest Indiana to do the program and our goal is to be in every school in Northwest Indiana.”
Girls on the Run of Northwest Indiana is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. By using a fun, experience-based curriculum that integrates running, girls are inspired to be joyful, healthy and confident.
As the night went on, guests enjoyed the live band “Spoken Four,” an appetizer buffet, open bar, dessert tables, an array of silent auction prizes, a selfie mirror, and more. Guest speakers were highlighted mid-celebration to share inspiring stories about their time with the GOTR program.
Since first joining the organization about 10 years ago, Sue Beres, LaPorte County Coordinator for Girls on the Run of Northwest, has helped bring the GOTR program to almost every school in LaPorte County.
“I’m so passionate about this program because it gives the girls a ‘tool box’ and a way to help them know that they’re in charge. If we can show them this at a young age, we can really make a difference. Everybody wants to feel safe and that they belong, and if we can show them ways on how to do this, we are one step closer,” said Beres.
Girls on the Run participant, Hailey Zimmerman, 10, also spoke to the crowd of hundreds about the many ways GOTR has impacted her life.
“I love GOTR so much because it lets girls be what they want to be, have their own personality, and truly be themselves,” said Zimmerman. “Every day, GOTR helps me realize who my true self is. Every 5K, every practice, and every GOTR friend that I have made is a blessing.”
Zimmerman also noted that she and her fellow GOTR friends are working on self-acceptance and getting rid of negative self-talk.
“I like getting down and dirty and drilling a soccer ball into a net. Girls on the Run has brought me closer to so many other girls that are like me and who are going through some of the things that I go through, too,” said Zimmerman.
When it came time for donations, hands all around the room seemed to fly up in every direction one could turn. Whether it was sponsoring a single runner or providing funds for healthy snacks or new running shoes, every donated dollar was greatly appreciated by the Girls on the Run committee. Each donor received a GOTR medal to wear throughout the evening.
Looking forward, GOTR and its committee hope to continue to grow and reach even more girls across Northwest Indiana.
“An object in motion stays in motion. Where focus goes, energy flows,” Beres said. “I hope GOTR continues to express joy and gratitude in everything we do, stand up for ourselves and these girls, lead with open hearts and assuming positive intent, but most importantly, find strength in our connections because that’s where the real magic happens.”
For more information about Girls on the Run of Northwest Indiana, please visit their website.