Honoring Brad Eastman
Honoring the Original Girls on the Run Sparkler: Brad Eastman
It is with a very heavy heart that we share with our Girls on the Run St. Louis community that Brad Eastman, our "Original Sparkler," who believed every Girl on the Run should feel strong, capable and celebrated to her finish line and beyond, passed away peacefully at home on Saturday, February 27.
Since 2009, Brad has ensured that thousands of Girls on the Run cross the finish line at the GOTR-STL 5k feeling confident, joyful and celebrated. He first learned about GOTR from his now wife, Sarah, a coach in the Ferguson-Florissant School District where she is also a teacher. Brad positioned himself on the course meters before the finish line and would join alongside a Girl on the Run, encouraging her, celebrating her, getting a smile and a confident final jump or leap across the finish line. Brad would never cross the finish line himself; the finish line was all hers. Instead, he turned around and did it all over again and again, pouring his energy into honoring the Girl on the Run next to him - always being present, positive and focused on HER.
He once explained “I ‘run in’ girls until every last girl that started the race has crossed the finish line. I feel this is important because it demonstrates to the girls that no one will give up on them if they don’t give up on themselves. I view each and every girl who crosses the finish line with everything they have as a good story, but my favorite are those who require ‘the motivation plus package’ to truly find themselves for that last hurrah to the finish.”
Brad taught us what it means to be a Sparkler. At Girls on the Run we celebrate every girl moving forward towards her goal, finding her inner strength to pursue something on a 5k course or in life. Brad showed us how transformational it can be to have that positive, consistent support along the 5k course that ensures every girl can activate her Star Power, to turn her “I can’t” into “I got this!” Because of Brad, we now have Sparklers that cover our entire GOTR-STL 5k course and channel his energy and enthusiasm. Focusing upon her and moving forward with her is powerful and important.
When cancer treatments affected his energy and he wasn't able to run with the girls, Brad still stood near the finish line to cheer and encourage them. And then, of course, came back the next 5k!
We honored Brad with our Energy Award in 2018. He explained that, "being a part of the Girls on the Run 5k and this organization is truly a privilege and a joy for me. I look forward to the 5k and it was something that I was most looking forward to once I had recovered from my cancer surgery and treatment. It is so inspiring to me to see every girl cross that finish line, with a smile, knowing she can accomplish it, do it all herself - even if we are holding hands together - she did it! To be part of those moments and part of Girls on the Run is amazing."
All of us at Girls on the Run St. Louis are grateful to know Brad and to have seen and learned from him; his approach, his tenacity and his priorities have taught us so much from afar. His perseverance in the face of adversity are a testament to his truly inspirational nature and he repeatedly shared that spirit with us. Girls on the Run St. Louis is forever better because Brad Eastman taught us how to celebrate, honor and "sparkle" every Girl on the Run.