The story of GOTR WORCESTER and ME

Dedication: Susan Campo

I’d like to start my story by sharing a little bit about myself and my reasons for wanting to share this great program of Girls on the Run with every person I have ever met. It is all I talk about! I’ve been married to the most amazing man for 18 years now, we’ve actually been together 29 years believe it or not. More than half my life. We have 3 awesome children, a quietly confident 16 year old daughter named Caitlin and 2 sons that are full of energy, a 12 year old Troy and a 10 year old Colin. My husband actually cringed a little bit when I first proposed this idea of starting a GOTR council. He actually said “of course my wife wants to essentially work for free” but after a long walk one afternoon and several hours worth of conversations I sold him on the idea. You see I have been talking about this program since 2004… Just ask my closest friends I’m sure they got sick of hearing about it.

It was 2004 when I first heard about GOTR when a friend gave me the book “Girls on track.” Written by GOTR founder Molly Barker. My friend’s daughter was struggling a little bit socially in the 4th grade. Some of her friends were telling her she couldn’t do a cartwheel so she couldn’t play with them at recess. I said to my friend’s daughter, “You know what I would do? I’d stand there and do my horrible cartwheels at recess right next to those girls.” She just looked at me and said, “I could never do that”. About a month after that conversation my friend slid me the book across the table while we were sharing a cup of coffee. Her sister had sent her the book from California. My friend said “YOU need to do this program with our girls, YOU could do this, YOU were made to teach this program!”

Well after a few more babies and some family challenges along the way, Girls on the Run kept coming up in my life. Every time I would put it on the back burner it would somehow bubble up to the surface and give me a little nudge.

In 2014 I finally got the courage to take the plunge. During the process of the monstrous GOTR application – which totaled 297 pages. As proposed council director I was asked to answer the question “Why are you interested in starting a council of Girls on the Run?” WOW! Why did I want to REALLY start a council so badly?

I’ve reflected back on my life and all the reasons for wanting to start this council. I have had several friends over the years say to me “you are the most confident person I have ever met” and when I think back on my life and try to find the reasons why that may be true I always come back to what I learned about myself through sports.

When I was a freshman in high school I tried out for the field hockey team and I remember seeing this older girl, a fiery read head named Susan, she was so amazing and she had this confidence on and off the field that I had never seen before. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I became close friends with Sue. Through that friendship Susan taught me how to celebrate my strengths and abilities instead of downplaying my talents. I learned from Susan how to embrace my competitive edge and never be afraid to be strong and true to myself.

When I starting dating my now husband Don the Summer going in to our Junior year of high school, we challenged each other in every sport imaginable. Do you know how hard it is to play field hockey one on one? If I had to play another game of RISK one more time I might have strangled myself. Don never let me off the hook, he still doesn’t, he challenges me and never lets me win. Don inspires me to be my best and give my best 100% of the time. If only I could get that laundry thing down.

When I looked back, turns out I had a really hard year in 2002 – my sister passed away in February from years of substance abuse and my friend Susan (that fiery red head) passed away of ovarian cancer in August that same year. I really struggled with these two deaths. I struggled with the two very different extremes of self worth. I remember thinking what are you going to do to make a difference? Did I want to do work with substance abuse? One of my professors in college said try to be “proactive” in business… I thought to myself.. Why not be proactive in LIFE? I may not be able to change what happened to my sister but how could I be “proactive” enough to try to prevent substance abuse in young girls before it even starts? How do you “teach” someone how to love herself? How do you “teach” them confidence? How do you teach them they are WORTHY? How do you reach girls BEFORE they develop a self-esteem issue?

GIRLS ON THE RUN is how you REACH those girls…

I’ll close with a little story, our daughter is a competitive swimmer, she has been since the age of 7 1/2. When she started competing she would get these belly aches right before her heat, like clock work we would head to the bathroom… one particular swim meet the conversation went something like “do you get a little nervous before you are getting ready to race?” and she said – I remember it like it was yesterday “yes mom, but once I get up on those starting blocks, it all goes away mom and I feel great” 7 ½ – can you believe it? I knew then, that we were doing something right.

Girls on the Run International and Say It Forward are committed to the empowerment of girls everywhere. We believe that every girl has an important story to share – a story of determination and perseverance, a story that can inspire others to overcome the self-limiting beliefs that keep them from reaching their fullest potential. We are also committed to empowering the women who invest their time and energy in these girls.

We invite you to share your story at Say It Forward and to keep in touch with us via Twitter and FacebookGirls on the Run International Facebook and Twitter. All stories written by girls are shared with the permission of a parent or guardian. Girls’ first names only are posted with their stories.

Story shared by...

Karen Spencer

Over recent years I have found the sport of Crossfit. It keeps me humble. It is the closest thing I have found to sports. I missed “practicing ” everyday. I realized that I was missing the community and this was the closest thing to that feeling. I also play in an adult field hockey league where I run around and pretend I am young again and try to keep up with thy youngsters.