A Small Act of Kindness Leads to Immeasurable Impact News | GOTR Michiana

Michiana Joy Corner


Recent Post

Rochelle Day

Rochelle Day

A Small Act of Kindness Leads to Immeasurable Impact

Young runner and volunteer hug at 5K Finish Line.

Valerie Staples knew nothing about Girls on the Run. But, in 2016, when a colleague shared that she and her daughter were excited to register as sparkle runners, Val opted to register and run with them.

The rest is history. Val has spent the better part of the last seven years volunteering for Girls on the Run Michiana and championing the GOTR mission.

"I just fell in love with it," Valerie recalls.

That very first Girls on the Run 5K - at Potawatomi Park - was moderately hot and humid. Valerie remembers being on the course and catching up with one GOTR participant who was running alone. She had chosen to wear her hair long and now, nearly 2 miles in, was struggling with the heat. Val ran up next to her and asked how she was feeling.

"Yeah, I don't think I can do this," the girl responded.

Val looked down at her wrist; she had a hair tie and asked the girl if she wanted to put her hair up. She took the offer and proceeded to scoop her long hair up into a high ponytail.

Then, Val recalls, the girl just stopped and said, "I CAN do this."  She then took off! 

After witnessing that moment, Val got teary-eyed. It was really special. This young girl was suddenly ready to go; confident, excited, focused on the moment. "She really wanted to finish this" Val explained.

It was such a small act, stopping to talk to her and offer her a hair tie, but it was a beautiful moment, Val said, adding that such a small act can have a big impact.

When that same participant got close to the finish line she was struggling again.  She was hot and tired, not sure she could make it. Val asked the girl if she wanted to run across the finish line together. 

At that same moment, the girl's friend - who had finished ahead of her - came back to get her and cross the finish line together. Then, other participants from her team were standing at the finish line to cheer her on.

"I just thought that was so touching for her friend to realize she wasn't there and come back to get her," Val shared.

It wasn't about them, Val concluded, it was about supporting each other. One small act or gesture can have an immeasurable impact, Val said.

"How often in our day-to-day lives do we dismiss the chance to support a friend or even a stranger? Sometimes even saying hello to somebody can have more meaning than we realize."


What Sets Girls On The Run Apart?

Valerie Staples is a licensed clinical social worker with more than 35 years of experience. She currently works at the University of Notre Dame and specializes in treating clients with eating disorders. She finally did some more research on the curriculum of Girls on the Run and learned that the  focus is on self esteem, building self confidence, expressing feelings, seeing value in oneself, supporting one another; all skills that she works with her clients to develop.

"If some of my clients had something like this (Girls on the Run) ... the things that the girls are learning is something I'm doing on an individual basis with all of my clients," Val explained.

She saw GOTR as a way to increase her impact on the younger generation, to face those issues early to prevent or see a shift in eating disorders that might surface later.

Val spent her first few years as a sparkle runner volunteer before the 5K committee approached her and asked if she would like to be the lead.

"I thought, 'Oh my gosh, I am not organized,' but at the same time, I was excited because I wanted to be more involved," Val said. "Being a part of the 5K committee allowed me to understand more about GOTR."

To be able to work with a group of women (and men) that was as passionate about it (the Girls on the Run mission), that part was a huge draw."

One year, Rochester had a team, a detail Val could appreciate since she grew up in Leiters Ford, a small rural town also in Fulton County.

"I was so excited to see kids from smaller, rural  schools be exposed to GOTR," she said.

Val isn't quite hanging up her tutu; she still plans to volunteer and continue the impact but she is passing on the baton for Lead Sparkle Runner. A word of advice?

"Expect the unexpected," she said.

Val added that it helps to bring high energy, but it's not hard to have when you do something like the GOTR 5K. There's just something about the 5K environment that's so positive, you just walk away feeling so good and so positive, she said.

"Why wouldn't you want to be a part of something like that?! I didn't realize how much fun it would be, and I had no idea it would impact me as positively as it did," Val shared.

Val has seen over the years how her personal relationships have changed. She's grateful for GOTR and that it's allowing the next generation to grow up with more confidence, be unafraid to fail and try new things, and stay on course toward limitless potential. If her story has inspired you or if Girls on the Run has had an impact on your life - whether as a Coach, Volunteer, or parent of a participant - please reach out to Rochelle via email. Let's share your story!


Share this Post!

About Council

We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. Non-profit girl empowerment after-school program for girls.

Girls on the Run International Post