Finishing a 5K race is an accomplishment for anyone. Eight girls from Allen Elementary School, grades four through six, experienced the thrill of crossing the finish line at the Girls on the Run 5K held June 1 at Walsh University. Their joy was shared with their Mercy Medical Center running buddies who coached, encouraged and supported the young runners the entire way.
Mercy Medical Center has supported the girls’ team from Allen Elementary since Girls on the Run of Stark County began four years ago. This year’s coaching team included Mercy employees Therese Esmont and Kathy Ruppert and Allen Elementary School second grade teacher Leah Stillwell.
Commitment and Service from Students and Mercy
The girls and coaches met twice a week for 10 weeks as part of the program. “This team of girls was very goal oriented and motivated to go above what they achieved the prior week in training,” Esmont says. “It was so inspirational to watch their progress.” In addition to training for the 5K, the girls also participated in a service project. Allen’s team chose to volunteer at a McKinley High School track meet.
“This was a great event for the girls to see older students training and setting goals,” says Karen Feller, manager of Mercy Mission Outreach.
Shoe Shopping with Mercy Employees
If you’re a runner, you know proper fitting shoes are a necessity. Thanks to monetary donations from Mercy Medical Center employees, each girl shopped and was fitted for a new pair of running shoes at Second Sole. Hospital employees also donated miss-match socks and shoelaces specially designed to pay tribute to Boston and support the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy.
Ready to Run
Mercy Medical Center was a sponsor of this year’s Girls on the Run 5K. “The goal is to finish the race and every one of our girls did just that,” Feller says. “Some of the girls were returning runners, and each one bettered their time from last year,” she adds.
According to the girls, the best parts of race day are receiving their medals at the finish line, eating subway sandwiches, and getting ice cream afterwards.
“Ice cream is a tradition and a chance for the kids to thank coaches, and say goodbye for the summer,” Feller says.
“The girls are so grateful for everything they’re given and our time spent together,” says Ruppert. When one girl asked, “You come all the way from Massillon to help us?”, Ruppert responded with an enthusiastic and heartfelt, “Yes!”
To learn more about Girls on the Run of Stark County, visit www.gotrstarkcty.org. Team Photo: Allen Elementary School students and Mercy Medical Center team coaches Kathy Ruppert and Therese Esmont participate in the Girls on the Run 5K held June 1 at Walsh University. Pictured (left to right): Chyna, D’Naysia, Mercy Medical Center employee Kathy Ruppert, Leilani, Ky’Mera, Mirra, Mercy Medical Center employee Therese Esmont, Andrea, second grade teacher Leah Stillwell, Keanua, Trinity, and running buddy Crystal.
Featured photo (top right): Mercy Medical Center employee Julie Drake and Girls on the Run participant Ky’Mera
Top left: Mercy employee Sandy Smith and Leilani
Middle: Mercy employee Kathy Ruppert and Girls on the Run participant Mirra
Bottom: Mercy employee Ann Almasy and Keanua