Our volunteers are the heart and sole of Girls on the Run St. Louis! We would not be able to have the impact that we do wtihout them! Read more about Kim on our blog!
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Kim Elder, I'm a wife, mother, teacher, friend, and Girls on the Run coach...WHOA! I've enjoyed the sport of running just about my whole life! My dad was a great track and field coach, and some of my first memories are playing on the track watching young men and woman run. In high school I competed in both cross country and track and in my 20s I completed my first half marathon, which lead to my first full marathon a few years later, and finally training and completing my first Ironman this past November! I would say my passions are family, teaching, creating good in this world, playing outside and physical fitness....(I think I was made to be a GOTR coach!!)
How did you get involved with Girls on the Run St. Louis?
I first learned about GOTR from a very good friend who lived in Madison, WI. She had committed to coaching the spring 2013 season and was so excited about it! Tragically, my friend passed away that January. I decided to coach and bring GOTR to my school as a way to honor and remember what an incredible person she was. Spring 2014, Coverdell started the GOTR program with 17 amazing girls and 5 amazing coaches. I quickly knew why my friend was so excited to coach...the program was beyond my expectations.
What is the most rewarding thing about volunteering with GOTR-STL?
It is hard to pick just one rewarding thing about GOTR because it impacts both the girls in the program and the coaches and teachers that volunteer in such positive ways. I love the community GOTR brings to our school. I love seeing the girls cheer each other on, genuinely wanting the best for their teammates. I love the look of triumph when each girl crosses the finish line. I love that no girl is denied a spot on our team because of income. I teach at a Title I school and we have had girls that have never had the opportunity to be part of a team because of cost. The individuals that donate to GOTR and make scholarship spots available are incredible. I can't tell you how powerful it is to hear a girl say, "I matter" or the look on their face when they receive their team shirt....some of our girls wore their shirts every day they could, they were so proud. Girls on the Run has also drawn quite a following with the staff at Coverdell. The multiple coaches each add something special to our team. Teachers have taken their own time to show up and encourage the girls at practice. A few even became race buddies. It made my heart smile to begin practice last spring with 33 girls and at least 10 staff members. Each year I hope more teachers and girls join the fun!
How has GOTR-STL impacted your life?
GOTR has impacted my life in many ways. I am deeply committed to not only showing each girl they are special and can achieve goals they set, but also encouraging community at our school and the philanthropic mission of the program. The GOTR lessons resonate within me, they inspire women of all ages! When I was training for my Ironman, and especially on the 15+ hour race day, I constantly kept a smile on my face, was appreciative of all volunteers and told myself to "keep moving forward!" GOTR is not a program that you complete and forget...the experiences and memories are powerful tools you can take with you "moving forward" in life.
What is your favorite memory from your volunteer experience?
My favorite memory of my volunteer experience.....I love that last spring our girls overheard some of the 3rd and 4th grade boys also wanting a running program and decided to hold a one mile fun run for them. We had over half the students in both grades participate. The girls made medals, posters, set up a water table, a cheered their hearts out. It showed them how much went into a race and I think all of my girls were very eager to say thank you to volunteers on their race day! The boys were also very appreciative and it was a special afternoon at Coverdell.
Why would you recommend that others get involved with GOTR-STL?
I would encourage ANYONE to become involved with GOTR-STL....the relationships you make and the positive impact you have on Saint Louis youth is amazing. You DO NOT have to be a runner to join! A smile and a willing attitude to "keep moving forward" is all you need to get started. The staff at the GOTR office are awesome at training you and providing support. I also love the SOLEMATE program for fundraising and the multiple events offered each year giving people the opportunity to donate funding and sponsor teams. A favorite quote of mine is, "Be the change you wish to see in this world." You truly change lives with this program. DO IT! You will not regret your experience!
What are your hopes for the future of GOTR-STL as an organization?
I would love if EVERY girl in Saint Louis was offered the chance to be part of this program!! In a world where girls are bombarded with mass media images and technology overload, there is no better program that encourages physical fitness and healthy well being. The lessons are so good and the workouts are so fun....it's a goal of mine to see each elementary school in my district start a team and from there continue to see the program grow across St. Louis. I'm also hoping as Coverdell's past girls graduate on to middle school and high school they come back as junior coaches and practice partners.
Best of luck to all teams this season, Girls on the Run is SO much fun!
Best Wishes and Happy Running!