I’m Laura Kelly, and I was born and raised in St. Louis. I went away for undergrad and now I’m back finishing up my graduate degree (Master’s in Health Administration) at SLU. I started running when I was a freshman in high school by joining the cross country team. My primary reason for joining the team was to meet people before school started, but I loved everything about the experience, both the running itself and meeting teammates and making friends. I think this may be my favorite thing about running: it is such a great way to genuinely connect with others.
Why did you choose to volunteer/get involved with GOTR-STL?
I chose to get involved with GOTR-STL because I believe in the mission of GOTR and I wanted to be a part of instilling the GOTR lessons and values in the minds of girls throughout the STL area.
What is the most rewarding thing about Girls on the Run?
For me, the most rewarding thing about GOTR is seeing the girls build up their belief in themselves as individuals and in each other as teammates and friends.
How has GOTR-STL impacted your life?
GOTR-STL has impacted me in countless ways! I’ve learned so much from listening and participating in the lessons at each practice, and the relationships I’ve formed- both with the girls and fellow coaches and volunteers- have brought me deep gratitude and great joy.
During my first 5K as a coach (Spring 2014), I ran solo until a little ways after finishing mile 2. I saw a girl who was running solo a little ways ahead of me. I ran up to her and asked if we could run the rest of the race together. She replied saying, “Yea. I was running with my dad, but I left him behind back there.” Which I thought was both funny and awesome- she had the confidence and independence to continue on at her own pace! We chatted and got to know each other over that last mile, and as we crossed the finish line the announcer announced her name. Words can’t express how inspiring this experience was; I got to finish this girl’s first 5K with her! It was like I was watching and participating in the culmination of all that GOTR is about: strength, companionship, confidence, and running! I’ve finished a lot of races in my life, and plan to finish many more, but this is a race I’ll never forget.
Why would you recommend others get involved with Girls on the Run?
It’s rewarding (see favorite memory above), fun, and IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE!
What are your hopes for the future of Girls on the Run as an organization?
I hope that GOTR continues to grow and reach more girls year over year. I also hope it continues to evolve its curriculum to provide new ways of learning the powerful GOTR lessons so girls everywhere know and choose to live the GOTR values.