Tuesday, April 29, 2014
6 p.m. Reception, 7 p.m. Dinner
The Drake Hotel, 140 East Walton Street, Chicago
The Extraordinary Awards were created to honor those who act as inspirational role models, are passionate and active promoters of Girls on the Run-Chicago, and who expemplify our mission.
INSPIRATION AWARD - for an outstanding community leader
This year's Inspiration Award goes to The CarMax Foundation. The CarMax Foundation is committed to supporting the communities where their associates live and work. Through regional and national giving programs, the CarMax Foundation’s key program areas emphasize youth leadership, education, and wellness. To-date, the foundation has awarded more than $75,000 to Girls on the Run programs nationwide, and their generous support of Girls on the Run-Chicago has helped the organization continue to grow and sustain its low-income programming.
Leslie Parpart, Manager of the CarMax Foundation, believes that the foundation "cares most about the causes our associates care about, and when we support an organization it is our plan to be there and offer that support long-term." This support has come to Girls on the Run-Chicago not only through generous grants from the foundation, but through the engagement of CarMax employees from across the region as volunteers at our various 5k events.
We would like to extend our sincere thanks to the CarMax Foundation for their ongoing support of Girls on the Run-Chicago. Their investment in our cause has aided us in combating the prevalance of unhealthy habits among Chicagoland youth, enabling us to grow and sustain our life-changing programming.
LEGACY AWARD - for an individual or group that has left a lasting mark on the organization, changing and enhancing our future
This year's Legacy Award recipient is PepsiCo. Since fall of 2011, Girls on the Run-Chicago has seen nearly 50,000 runners cross our 5k finish line. Thanks to PepsiCo, each of those runners was able to refuel with a bottle of Aquafina water, a bottle of Gatorade, and a Quaker Chewy Bar at the finish line. For a sense of the magnitude of this contribution, if you were to line up the product PepsiCo has donated to Girls on the Run-Chicago over the past four years, it would cover more than 20 miles and is valued at more than $200,000.
PepsiCo's commitment to building brighter futures in the communities where they operate has had a lasting impact on Girls on the Run-Chicago and the families we serve. With PepsiCo's support, we have been able to grow our programming and 5k events knowing that our participants will be taken of when they cross the finish line. PepsiCo's generosity has been truly transformational--enabling Girls on the Run-Chicago to bring our after-school program and end-of-season 5k to a greater number of girls.
SUPERSTAR AWARD - for an outstanding GOTRC coach
This year's Energy Award goes to Erin Sauer. Erin fell in love with running while training for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2011. Erin was new to running, and the transformation she experienced while training was something she wished she could bottle up and share with others.
While searching for books to use at the school where she works as a social worker, Erin stumbled upon Girls on the Run Founder, Molly Barker’s book, Girl on Track and fell in love with the program. Erin brought Girls on the Run to Prairie Elementary in Buffalo Grove in 2012. The school is now in its third season, having served over 60 girls.
Erin’s favorite part of GOTR is watching the girls transform over the course of the season. She explains, “It’s the little things. The way a girl will smile and wave at her teammates in the hallway at school, even though they’re in different grades or watching the “shy” girl open up and run with someone new. I feel privileged to have worked with so many girls and co-coaches. Girls on the Run at Prairie Elementary simply wouldn’t exist without the passion of my co-coaches. I always thought as coaches, we would be the ones to inspire and teach, but the reality is that the beautiful girls we serve have taught me, inspired me, and encouraged me every single day. They inspire me to never stop dreaming, never stop smiling, and never stop believing in myself!” Thank you, Erin, for your unwavering commitment to the girls you serve!
ENERGY AWARD - for an outstanding GOTRC volunteer
The 2014 Superstar Award recipient is Kerry Rejczyk. Kerry still remembers seeing the Girls on the Run logo for the first time on a fellow runner’s shirt during a half marathon. A 4th grade teacher in Gurnee, Illinois, Kerry worked in collaboration with her colleagues and administrators to bring Girls on the Run to Woodland Intermediate School in 2010. The Woodland School District now hosts GOTRC programs at all of their schools! Kerry attributes the success of the program in her community to her dedicated coaches, parents, and colleagues.
During her first season, Kerry assumed that running was the primary focus of the program. She soon realized, though, that running is only a part of what this incredible program has to offer. It teaches girls about being healthy, inside and out, and how to handle life’s challenges at any age.
In addition to her work as a coach and site coordinator, Kerry has helped support Girls on the Run-Chicago by visiting new program sites to offer support and guidance and assisted in training coaches before the start of the season. In her own words, “Each time I work with GOTRC, whether it’s with the girls, coaches, parents or staff, I am reminded again and again what a positive and enduring message Girls on the Run cultivates and promotes. I am fueled by the girls’ energy. As much as I do for GOTRC, I receive so much more in return. I am honored to be considered for this award with so many incredible volunteers and staff making a difference every day.” We are honored to recognize your hard work, Kerry, and so grateful for your passion for GOTRC!