Meet our new Program Director, Deidre Dodd!

Meet our new Program Director, Deidre Dodd!

Meet our new Program Director, Deidre Dodd!

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Girls on the Run of Alachua County would like to extend a happy welcome to our new Program Director, Deidre Dodd! Deidre has been working with the Alachua County Girls on the Run Program since 2011.  We are so pleased to welcome her to her new position & can’t wait to see the wonderful things she helps GOTR of Alachua County accomplish. I had the pleasure of interviewing Deidre and learned so many inspiring things about her.  Below are the questions and answers from my interview with her:

Question 1: How did you start out working with Girls on the Run? What lead you to volunteer?
  • When I began with GOTR in 2011, my two daughters were ages 9 and 4. My girls are very much outdoor, fun loving girls.  It was becoming increasingly important to me to ensure that they would continue to have the self-confidence in themselves through their maturing years, and Girls on the run was the perfect answer for my girls! The program at that time was being led at an elementary school where I worked, and I saw first hand the impact the Girls on the Run program was having on these students.
Question 2: What do you wish to accomplish as the new program director?
  • My wish as the new program director is to help Girls on the Run of Alachua County grow through organizational exposure as well as site locations, so that all parents are knowledgeable of the program. As well as giving these parents the opportunity to enroll their daughter into GOTR program, where ideas and strategies will change the way their girls think about not only themselves but friends and the community!
Question 3: What has been your greatest success or memory since you started working with GOTR?
  • An important part of my growing with GOTR was when we piloted the Girls on Track program in Fall 2013. This was the first time Girls of Alachua County participated in the second tier of the Girls on the Run organization, Girls on Track, offered to 6-8th grade students. As a coach for GOT, I found it ironic after preparing for each of the lessons that these messages are just as applicable to myself as much as they were to the girls. They relate to girls and women, and everyone.  Just because we, as coaches, are adult women does not mean that we don’t forget to practice these ideals in our own life.
 
Question 4: Has GOTR had any impact on you and/or your family? If so, how?
  • YES! Both of my girls have participated in the Girls on the Run as well as the Girls on Track program. We speak Girls on the Run lingo all of the time…We put in our positive cord, and begin to look at the positive ways to look at a situation, and we resolve the challenge in that direction. My youngest daughter loves to put her sparkly cord in, and she will tell me she is getting rid of her yucky, slimy cord. We focus on positivity, and I tell my own daughters as well as all of my GOTR girls that Happiness and Positivity are contagious…Be the Carrier!

 

-Rebekah Mena

Running with Company

Running with Company

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It’s been quite a while since I last wrote, and I promise my intentions were good. It’s been a little over a month since I finished my second half marathon with my awesome and inspiring friend, Kerry! To say that my race weekend was amazing would be an understatement. Leading up to the race, I was feeling so nervous, anxious, and I would get all kinds of butterflies. Flash forward to the Friday before my race, and my husband and I got some incredibly exciting news! We were expecting our first child!! In that moment, everything felt surreal. My weird stomach issues were instantly explained, and even before I told my husband, I was on the phone with my doctor to make sure that I was in the clear to run my race. I felt even more passionate about finishing my race knowing that I wanted the best future for our little one, and the world they were going to be coming in to. My doctor encouraged me to run my race, but to do so while keeping my heart rate low. So, with that information and a little running partner, my husband and I set off for Orlando to stay with our friends and celebrate this new journey we were starting.

Flash forward to race morning…for any moms out there, I’m sure that all of you can relate with not feeling the greatest during the first weeks of pregnancy. My morning, however, started with a Questbar before the race and one to eat along the way during the race. When Kerry and I arrived at the race morning, it was dark and a little chilly for Orlando. We pulled up to the building where I used to work and I could already feel the excitement building up! I felt so at home in Lake Nona when we lived there, and I still feel so comfortable in that area of Orlando. The race was packed with people getting ready, and we made our way to our spots. Kerry and I run at different paces, so we made a plan to meet at the end of the race. Just before the race, one of the guests of honor gave a special “Good Luck” announcement to all of the runners. That’s when the waterworks started that day. I started to feel the excitement, adrenaline, and sentimental moments building up. Lake Nona was my home and where I really found myself as an adult. It was where my husband and I had our first home together, and it where we would spend our weekends when we dated. Every step of the race, I felt myself explaining to our little one what cherished moments had happened at the locations I passed. The whole 13.1 miles, I was narrating our story, my story, internally to my little running buddy.

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When I got to mile 8, I realized that all of the emotions were making it a little difficult to keep my heart rate down. So, I decided to slow down and walk it out a little bit. By mile 9, I seriously thought about throwing in the towel. I was tired, hungry, nauseous, and emotional. But,   all that keptrunning through my head were the pictures I’d seen on the Girls on the Run websites and the thought that I was thinking of quitting not because I couldn’t do it, but because I was tired. That moment when I thought of GOTR, is what got me through my last 4.1 miles of the race. I couldn’t wait to get home and share what a wonderful and life-changing experience my race weekend had been. I am incredibly grateful for Girls on the Run and especially for Emely who has made being a SoleMate so incredibly easy and rewarding! I’ve decided to take it easy on the running and races during my pregnancy, but I plan to come back after our little one is born and continue being a SoleMate! Thank you so much for all of the support and encouragement along the way! I hope everyone has a blessed Holiday Season!

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Love,

Stephenie & My Little Running Buddy

 

FAVORITE RACE MOMENTS:

  1. Crossing the finish line and running straight into my husband’s arms
  2. The gorgeous sunrise overlooking one of my favorite sections of Lake Nona
  3. The thought of everyone with Girls on the Run cheering for me to finish
  4. Sharing this moment with my little running buddy. It was the perfect way to start my pregnancy off on the right foot!
Remember to be Thankful this Holiday Season!

Remember to be Thankful this Holiday Season!

With Thanksgiving being right around the corner, I thought it would be very fitting to highlight the importance of gratitude this holiday season! It’s super important to teach kids at a young age the importance of being grateful for what they have because there could always be someone out there who isn’t as fortunate. GOTR of Alachua County is super thankful for the amazing girls that we see come through our programs. Watching these grow together, laugh together, and discover themselves together is a very rewarding experience. Although I personally do not have face to face interactions with the wonderful volunteers of GOTRAC and the girls that are enrolled in our programs, getting to write this blogs featuring what the girls are doing and see the pictures, makes me so thankful for this internship! The girls in our program are super lucky to have each other and their coaches that work with them consistently because they’re a part of the GOTR family and having a supportive family is one of the many wonderful things to be grateful for. Pictured below are the girls from Archer Elementary after they ran their practice 5k last week!

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National Bullying Prevention Month

National Bullying Prevention Month

blog“People that feel alone or feel they are outcasts, kids that feel bullied or lost, remember that you have a voice and that you should use that voice to survive and persevere” – Christina Alguilera

October is National Bullying Prevention Month so it only seemed fitting for my first blog as the new GOTRAC intern to be talking about the amazing things we are doing to prevent bullying ! It’s very important that we educate today’s youth about what bullying is because sometimes kids don’t even realize that they are bullying one another. There are many amazing campaigns out there which are taking the initiative to educate young girls about the dangers of bullying. Many begin by explaining that there are three types of bullying: physical, emotional, and verbal. They also include tips that help girls identify when bullying is happening and they provide ideas/suggestions for what to do when girls witness bullying.

One amazing campaign that is currently going on is Secret’s Mean Stinks campaign. They’ve created a huge campaign to teach girls about the issue of bullying. They’ve also started an activity that is currently sweeping the nation. The idea is to have people make a pinky promise to take a stand against bullying. Young girls are encouraged to make a pinky promise to take a stand against bullying and then to paint their pinky nails blue to seal the deal. Locally, our girls are participating in the pinky promise against bullying. Attached is a picture of the girls from Archer Elementary making their pinky promise to take a stand against bullying!

Another amazing thing that has come out of Secret’s Mean Stinks concept is their new Chain of Nice Campaign. Secret is challenging their fans and supporters to create a 15 second long Instagram video in which they tag a friend (or few) and share something nice about them and inspiring them to spread the nice by doing the same thing on their own Instagram account. I will be participating in the Chain of Nice campaign so be on the look out for the link to my video! 🙂

– Rebekah M. <3