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Girls on the Run Philadelphia is thrilled to announce that our local nonprofit organization has been awarded with the Living Our Values Award by its national headquarters, Girls on the Run International. This award is given in honor of Monika Allen, a Girls on the Run volunteer coach who was best known for her colorful running tutus, vibrant personality and – even throughout her battle with brain cancer – courageous, hopeful spirit. Monika impacted the lives of many through her optimism, strength and perseverance, serving as an inspiration to the Girls on the Run community and to people across the world battling cancer. Monika embodied the Girls on the Run core values and gained national media attention in 2014 after standing up for herself and others when a national magazine mocked her for wearing a tutu while running a marathon. In January 2017, at the age of 38, Monika lost her battle with brain cancer, but her memory still shines at Girls on the Run.
In honor of Monika’s love for the GOTR mission and her passion for empowering others, a grant was established to recognize local Girls on the Run councils that embody the organization’s core values, display courageous leadership and demonstrate a commitment to provide life-changing programming to all girls. This year, Girls on the Run Philadelphia has received a grant to provide scholarship funding so even more girls can experience the magic of our program, coaches and empowering sense of community.
Nominations for the Living Our Values Award come from coaches across the country. This year's winning nomination came from Coach Gladys, a long-time mentor to girls participating in Girls on the Run in Philadelphia's Juniata Park neighborhood. In her nomination, Gladys shared:
GOTR Philadelphia has served under privileged girls with compassion. Their commitment to provide opportunities to these families never comes off as self serving. Colleen & Heather have also embraced me as their equal and never make me or others feel like they are inaccessible when in need. The heart of GOTR Philadelphia is truly bigger than I had ever expected. One example, when we lost one of our participants suddenly, Colleen and Heather immediately consoled me & met me for lunch. They went into action and wanted to be present for the family and myself. They knew my heart was & still is broken. They both asked what I & the family needed to remember our Bella. I can’t wait for this year’s 5k to honor her & bring attention to sudden childhood cardiac death. Without GOTR Philadelphia young girls wouldn’t have an ally to shine their Star Power. Please, please choose them.
At the Council's Spring 2023 5K event, participants wore baby blue ribbons to honor Bella's memory. Bella's family and coaches also honored her before the event, sharing information about sudden childhood cardiac death with the community.
During the Spring 2024 season, the $2,000 award will enable girls from Bella's community to participate in Girls on the Run. To help enable participation of more girls in our life-changing program, donate now.