Life Lessons

Life Lessons: Girls on the Run

A national program for girls is changing the lives of thousands. They're running like they've never run before, while learning steps to succeed on and off the track.

She was bullied for years. Her mom just died. Alyssa Wheeler could have run away from it all. But then she stumbled upon this: Girls on the Run.

"It helped me understand my confidence in myself so I could be more powerful," Wheeler shared.

The after-school program started 21 years ago in North Carolina. Now, with 200,000 girls in all 50 states, they're learning a lot more than just how to run a 5k.

"We teach them that they can choose to be grateful, we teach them how to be self-advocates so they learn how to advocate for themselves," said Kathleen Bohrnsen, the coach for Girls on the Run.

Her mom's sudden death left Wheeler without a running buddy until her grandmother stepped up. 

"It's a lot, because I'm still grieving. It's only eight months out and it's still a little raw. But the fact that this young lady, my granddaughter, is so involved with girls on the run and it's done so much for her and I'm sure that it will do something for me too, said Jill Maine, Wheeler's grandmother.

With the ten-week training course over, the 5k is here. Wheeler and her grandmother both made it to the finish line!

"What I thought when I came through the finish line, man, mom is going to be so proud of me," Wheeler said.

"It was well worth it seeing her and I come through that finish line for my daughter. If she were here, she would have been in this race. It wouldn't have been me. But I know she's watching I know she's proud," Maine said.

And that's why making it thru this finish line is just what they needed for a fresh start.

Girls on the Run costs anywhere from $10 to $100 for a ten-week program. Last year, 46 percent of participants received scholarships.

A total of 1.4 million girls have participated in Girls on the Run thanks to a woman named Molly Barker who founded the organization.  For more information, go to

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