Awards and Speakers

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.


ENERGY AWARDfor an outstanding GOTRC Volunteer

Cheryl VanderVelde

Cheryl VanderVelde first heard of Girls on the Run through her daughter who had volunteered with our organization. Having just retired, Cheryl was looking for a meaningful volunteer opportunity and joined the Girls on the Run community in the fall of 2013 as a regular in-office volunteer and continues to support our staff on a weekly basis.

Working in the office has given Cheryl a unique look at the behind the scenes efforts to pull off a successful season for thousands on girls. “I am very impressed with the overall mission of Girls on the Run-Chicago and especially respect the amount of fundraising that is done to provide scholarships so that all girls can participate.”

In the office Cheryl supports our business operations team and has become a life-long supporter of the GOTR mission program.  In her own words, “I look forward to the days that I am in the GOTR office.  It is very fulfilling to be part of an organization that is preparing young girls to be strong both physically & mentally and grow into confident young women.” We are honored to recognize your hard work, Cheryl, and so grateful for your passion for Girls on the Run-Chicago! 


SUPERSTAR AWARDfor an outstanding GOTRC Coach

Kristine Nader

Kristine Nader ran her first Girls on the Run-Chicago 5K in 2006 and was hooked! In 2007 she worked to bring the program to her daughter’s school, St. Paul of the Cross in Park Ridge. This spring season will be Kris’ 16th season and 8th year serving as coach, though you might know her better as #tutulady, a positive presence in our community and in the lives of the hundreds of girls she has coached over the years. Kris has also been a supporter of GOTRC through her commitment as a SoleMate for the past five years, “Being a coach and SoleMate has made me a better person, a better mom, a better wife, and a better teacher.”

Watching the girls learn and develop confidence over the course of the season is one of Kris’ favorite parts of coaching. Kris explains, “The program empowers girls to realize their dreams for a lifetime. They discover all that is wonderful about themselves, developing confidence in their choices and abilities. Watching them cross the finish line each season brings me to tears because they know in that moment that anything is possible.” GOTRC is thankful for strong role models like Kris, who work to teach by example and whose time and effort has made an invaluable, positive difference in the lives of our girls.


INSPIRATION AWARD for an outstanding community leader

Katie Scullion

Katie Scullion learned about Girls on the Run in 1999 when she was transitioning out of strategy consulting to stay at home with her first child. She worked with a few other women to launch two GOTR programs in the city which led to the start of the Girls on the Run-Chicago council. The first season showcased the power of the program to change girls’ lives and Katie was committed to growing the program to meet the strong demand from the community.

From the beginning Katie and the other early volunteers were committed to balancing growth so that at least half the programs served low-income neighborhoods. Over time, Katie and the team worked to build a sustainable growth model that combined revenues and fundraising so that after five years they could hire the first professional paid staff. 

Katie continued to stay involved by coaching, serving on the Governing Board, volunteering at the 5ks, and fundraising.  Katie says, “The success of GOTR affirms some promising facts: people will devote themselves to excellent programming that helps kids. All types of girls, whatever their background, are eager to learn and be challenged. What this means is there is no cap on how influential and how powerful Girls on the Run can be.”  


LEGACY AWARDfor an individual or group that has left a lasting mark on the organization, changing and enhancing our future

Polk Bros Foundation

The Polk Bros Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for the people of Chicago. Through their grant programs, the Polk Bros Foundation has supported local nonprofit organizations that work to reduce the impact of poverty and provide area residents with better access to quality education, preventive health care and basic human services.

Since 2008, Girls on the Run-Chicago has been awarded more than $150,000 to support low-income teams in the city of Chicago and the Polk Bros Foundation’s generous support has helped us continue to grow and sustain our low-income programming.

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to the Polk Bros Foundation for their ongoing support of Girls on the Run-Chicago. Their investment in our mission has enabled us to sustain our life-changing programming and help prepare young girls for a lifetime of healthy living.