As a national sponsor of the Girls on the Run SoleMates charity running program, Garmin is partnering with this great organization to further their mission and share the stories of the women and men who are “running for a reason”. Runners can sign up for any event — runs, walks, bike rides or triathlons — and raise funds that will support their chosen council of Girls on the Run. Want your next race to help change lives? Find out more here. For many, running is a form of escape, stress relief and personal accomplishment. For Leah, all that was taken away when she became the victim of assault during a run. Read how Leah used running to regain her voice and her confidence and is now supporting Girls on the Run through SoleMates so that young girls never lose their personal expression.
To me, being a SoleMates fundraiser is about triumph. Not just triumph over a grueling long-distance run, but triumph over personal obstacles and triumph over your biggest enemy: yourself. I have been a runner for seven years now. It started in high school as a sport for me and as a reason for me to compete with my naturally talented and speedier sisters. Running slowly lost its meaning, and as I finished my first year of college, running had officially transformed from a sport to a weight-loss mechanism. The summer following my freshman year of college, I was not particularly happy with myself, with the friends I chose or with my undetermined path. On one afternoon that summer, I took off down a familiar path along a river in my hometown, most likely to negate the meal I had just consumed. That run turned my life completely around. Around mile 2, I was a victim of sexual assault. I was helpless. I had my voice, and in that brief moment, he took that away.
In the months that followed, I realized that I had been defeated. I had let a stranger take something so precious away from me: my gift of running. Though it was hard, I knew my first run back had to happen, and when it did, for the first time in my life, it was right. I was no longer running for competition or to burn those extra 500 calories. I was finally running because I could, and I was running for one person: myself.
My biggest inspiration is knowing that I can wake up every morning with the ability of walking, running, skipping, laughing and loving. No one can take that away. I became a SoleMates fundraiser because I believe that young girls know better than anyone else the value of personal expression. I want girls of ages 0-110 to hold on tightly to their personal expression. I believe that no one does a better job advocating for this than Girls on the Run. I will forever believe that you can triumph all of life’s obstacles when you stay true to yourself.