How Girls on the Run Made Me a Joyful, Confident Woman

There is an expression that says “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” I never really considered myself a lucky person, even as a kid. It wasn’t until I won a raffle at school one day when I realized that not only was I preparing for an opportunity, but also that my luck was about to change.

In 2004, I was a 7th grader at a school that supported health education and wellness initiatives. The administration did everything it could to encourage students to be active. At the end of the school year, the faculty held a “healthy activities raffle” for all students. Names were drawn at random and announced over the loudspeaker. Winners were called to the auditorium to claim a healthy activity prize (soccer balls, jump ropes, resistance bands, etc.). Since I had never won anything in my entire life, I didn’t expect my name to be called — but it was! I laughed, got excused from class and took a walk to the auditorium.

There was a teacher up on the stage handing out raffle prizes. I was excited to find out what I had won! Much to my surprise, the teacher didn’t hand me a soccer ball, a jump rope or a resistance band. She handed me an envelope. Curious, I opened it to find out what this could possibly mean. Inside the envelope was a certificate for Girls on the Run.

That’s where my luck began to change.

In the fall of that year, I was enrolled in the Girls on the Run middle school program at GOTR Pocono in Pennsylvania. As one of the older participants, I wasn’t sure how to feel at first. However, just weeks later I knew right away that I had a support system. The exuberant spirit of my teammates and the positive encouragement from my coaches gave me the confidence I needed to feel motivated and connected.

As a Girl on the Run, I learned the value of teamwork, community service and encouraging others to succeed. I also learned how being healthy is the key to a strong heart and an open mind. The lessons I learned inspired me to want to help others the same way Girls on the Run helped me.

In 2009, I graduated high school and went off to college. Feeling inspired by what I learned at Girls on the Run, I knew that I wanted to help others improve their health and well-being. Four years later, I earned a degree in Community Health Education and established my career. I joined the Cigna team in 2013 where I went on to work as a Health Educator. This joyful and confident girl became a joyful and confident woman. I was meeting my goals and living life to the fullest.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

The following year, I relocated to a Cigna office in Pittsburgh, PA. Starting over in a brand-new city, I reached out to the local Girls on the Run council to connect with the community. I started receiving emails about upcoming opportunities and felt so excited to get involved! Around that time, Cigna established a national volunteer program with Girls on the Run. When I found out I had the chance to volunteer with Girls on the Run — not just as an alum but as part of my career — I was absolutely thrilled! I knew this was my chance to put all my preparation into the most important opportunity of all: to help other girls reach their potential.

Since 2015, I have been very fortunate to volunteer with Girls on the Run here in Pittsburgh. It is so rewarding to volunteer with the program that inspired me to become who I am today. It gave me the strength to maintain a healthy lifestyle and never stop working toward my goals. Winning a school raffle didn’t make me lucky, but the experience I gained surely did. No matter how old I get, I will always be a Girl on the Run!

Interested in getting involved with Girls on the Run? Connect with your local council today!

Cigna is a National Partner of Girls on the Run International.

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