Molly

From Molly Barker, Founder

In 1976, I bought my first pair of running shoes. I was fifteen, and like most girls that age, trying to figure out who I was inside a changing body. I desperately wanted to fit in with the popular crowd, but I couldn’t fit into the box it placed over my spirit. The box told me things I knew in my heart weren’t true: That the way I behaved and looked was more important than who I was inside. That being a woman meant being quiet and submissive. That having a boyfriend meant having to mold my body and actions to meet prescribed cultural standards. But I stepped in anyway. The years I spent trying to mold my thoughts, body, lifestyle and being into what the box required were extremely painful.

So I ran. I’d put on my running shoes and head for the woods, the streets, wherever my feet would take me. I felt strong. Beautiful. Powerful.

July 7th, 1993 – I remember it well. I put on my running shoes and went for a sunset run. I am not sure during what point of the run the box disappeared, but like a glass womb, it shattered around me and pushed me out, born to an entirely new freedom. It was a moment of personal awakening.

A year later, I began to write the Girls on the Run curriculum. The concept, however, was born long before. It was born in 8th grade when a boy in my class told me that I looked like a boy. It was born when a young woman, weighing 85 pounds and starving herself, told me she needed to lose weight to be beautiful. It was born when a pregnant thirteen-year-old and I took a long walk in the woods.

Girls on the Run is a lot more than a running program. It will, I believe, lead to an entire generation of girls living peacefully and happily outside of the Girl Box.

In the year 2030, I’ll be 70. My daughter will be 32. If I have anything to say about it, she will never have to climb out of the Girl Box. Girls on the Run will shatter these constraints, like the spirit did for me that July night and help her and other girls feel comfortable simply being themselves.

Read Molly’s blog here.

When word got out that there was a group of young girls running around the nation together, challenging themselves every week to grow stronger as athletes and as people, and approaching their goals with focus, passion and grace, there was no question: ASICS had to hop on their path and run right alongside them.

ASICS was founded on the humble idea that sports have the power to transform lives and bring communities together through the universal language of movement. Nearly sixty years later, the synergies between this fundamental company vision and the mission of Girls On the Run has inspired ASICS to become the exclusive National Footwear Sponsor for the organization. By offering footwear, hosting local chapter events and providing on-going financial contributions to the program, ASICS is thrilled support their lifetime journey toward a happier, healthier and more balanced life through running.

ASICS is a leading performance and fitness lifestyle brand, offering footwear, apparel and accessories built for an active and healthy lifestyle. Comprised of a passionate team of innovators, designers, athletes and adventurers, ASICS strives to create stylish and versatile products that inspire enjoyment in every possible active pursuit, from running and training, to yoga and adventure-seeking. ASICS products are available globally in select retail locations and online at asics.com.

SmartWool is a National 5k Partner and the official sock of the Girls on the Run 5k Series. Based in Steamboat Springs, CO, SmartWool is an apparel brand whose products are inspired by living and playing in the mountains. SmartWool upholds strong values around high performance products, conscience business ethics and affecting a positive change in the world through volunteer service and their SmartWool Advocacy Fund. They believe that the future of the planet rests on healthy, active kids. That’s why their Advocacy Fund supports Girls on the Run and other organizations committed to getting kids outside through responsible recreational opportunities.

Cigna is proud to be the exclusive health care sponsor of Girls on the Run. The company’s mission is to help people improve their health, well-being and sense of security, and child wellness is a key part of that mission. Girls on the Run was named the first recipient of the Cigna Foundation’s World of Difference Grants, a program that awards funding to nonprofits that are committed to improving health equity in the area’s of children’s wellness, senior care and women’s health. The grant has enabled Girls on the Run to increase the number of participants in the program throughout the United States and potentially expand the program internationally. With support from Cigna, Girls on the Run will also distribute more than 200 scholarships to girls at schools across the country allowing them to participate in the program and the celebratory 5K runs.

A global health service company headquartered in Bloomfield, Conn., Cigna has 35,000 employees worldwide, many of whom volunteer with Girls on the Run. To learn more about Cigna, including links to follow the company on Facebook and Twitter, visit www.cigna.com.

Gamma Phi Beta Sorority is the exclusive National Panhellenic Conference Girls on the Run National Sponsor. Our philanthropic focus, Building Strong Girls, gives girls the confidence to dream big. We inspire the female leaders of tomorrow. For nearly a century, Gamma Phi Beta has committed to improving the lives of young girls by not only building stronger girls but stronger communities through them. As a National Sponsor, Gamma Phi Beta Sorority provides support to Girls on the Run through financial contributions at the local and international level and hands-on local support from our extensive and passionate membership throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The Sorority’s mission is to inspire the highest type of womanhood. Headquartered in Centennial, Colorado, the Sorority has chartered more than 180 collegiate chapters across the United States and Canada, and has more than 195,000 collegiate and alumnae members worldwide.

FOX Sports Supports is a program of FOX Sports dedicated to serving the nonprofit community. They understand that with great success comes great recognition and even greater responsibility. Giving back is not only important to the program but to its employees. In 2016 FOX Sports Supports will dedicate time, money and resources to Girls on the Run through a variety of support including PSA’s, in game graphics, event activations, talent involvement and more.

Thirty-One Gifts is one of the world’s largest direct-selling companies, committed to celebrating, encouraging and rewarding others for who they are, offering purses, wallets, totes, home organization solutions, jewelry and more. With a mission to help women by giving them the opportunity to own their own business, we are a company with a compassionate heart, comprised of a family of individuals who share a passion for building confident girls and women. Through our charitable program, Thirty-One Gives, we have a commitment to changing the alarming statistic that a girl’s self-esteem peaks at the age of 9. We are excited to support Girls on the Run and work together to change that statistic and build confident girls.