By NewsLine Staff

On Saturday, Dec. 3, Girls on the Run of Northeast Florida hosted more than 3,500 Girls on the Run participants, community runners and spectators at its 24th semi-annual celebratory end of season 5k at the University of North Florida.

The 5k is an untimed fun run for more than 900 Girls on the Run participants from almost 60 schools and community sites throughout Northeast Florida. Celebrating with participants were more than 200 volunteer coaches, 120 event volunteers and more than 800 running buddies, which are community runners and family members that encourage and run alongside each girl.Thousands of family members and friends also attended to spectate and cheer.

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Girls on the Run is a positive youth development non-profit program that uses activity-based lessons to teach life skills to girls in third to eighth grade. During the 10-week program, the lessons foster confidence, build peer connections and encourage community service, while preparing participants for the celebratory end of season 5k.

“Since 2004, we have positively impacted the lives of more than 12,000 girls,” said Executive Director of Girls on the Run of Northeast Florida Laura Lasko. “Girls today sort through countless messages about their worth, their image and their abilities. Girls on the Run helps empower them to be the authors of their own stories and culminates with our End of Season 5k. Girls gain new friends, more self-confidence and an unmistakable sense of accomplishment that is amazing to watch as they crossed the finish line.”

“My favorite thing about the race was finishing because my family was watching me and cheering me on,” said Girls on the Run participant Lavin Savage, after completing the 3.1 mile course and 10-week program.

Sherry Warner, a Girls on the Run 5k committee member and parent of Girls on the Run participants, said her favorite experience is also at the end of the season 5k.

“I loved watching everyone cheer for their teammates and girls from other teams that they don’t even know, as they feel as sense of connection with everyone who has worked all season towards the same goal,” Warner said.

Nemours Children’s Specialty Care of Jacksonville sponsored this event and provided medical services. Girls on the Run is in need of additional sponsorships for its next celebratory end of season 5k on April 29, 2017, as well as donations that fund its scholarship program. Scholarships allow girls who need financial assistance to participate in the program and are provided for approximately half of all participants, which accounted for 420 girls this season.

Visit for more information about becoming a sponsor or donating.

Photo courtesy Girls on the Run

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