With ambitions of honoring the 10 years of great programing that Girls on the Run Northwoods has brought to the Lakeland area, and with hopes of expanding the council and impacting more girls, Stacey Pearce has joined the GOTRNW staff as the new executive director.
Pearce believes in the organization’s core values, especially the way the group strives to embrace differences and find strength in everyone’s connectedness.
“Watching the nearly 100 girls and their running buddies cross the finish line at our final 5k was amazing; pure joy was beaming off of every girl,” Pearce said. “Seeing the girls cheer on their teammates, feeling the encouragement and pride of coaches and family members on race day … it was such a testament to the power of this amazing program and certainly one of my favorite moments for quite some time.”
Pearce was a GOTR volunteer coach in 2007 at North Lakeland School during its inaugural year at that location. Serving as head coach this past spring, she was thrilled to be connected to this “fabulous” program once again, coaching her own two daughters, Maija, age nine, and Natalia, age 11.
Growing up “up north” while her parents operated a year-round resort and tavern, Pearce attended Mercer School, and was a successful track and cross country runner. She qualified for the state track meet in Madison during her freshman and junior years.
With a degree in elementary education, Pearce understands the need for a proactive, health-based positive youth development program such as Girls on the Run.
“Girls at this young age will benefit from the solid curriculum and fun, encouraging delivery by well-trained coaches who have a passion for the youth of our community,” said Pearce.
As a single mother of two, Pearce can see the benefits that GOTR can provide.
“Each practice is exciting and fulfilling as communication skills are taught, trust increases within the team, and physical, emotional and social growth shines through all of the girls,” she said.
As a passionate advocate for girls being confident, healthy and successful, the Girls on the Run program has been a positive vehicle for delivering this message to the young girls of the area, which, in turn, benefits families and their communities.
As part of a national organization, Girls on the Run requires all of its new directors to attend a two-day training session in Charlotte, N.C. Pearce joined a group of other new directors from around the country June 18-19. Not only did she gain the knowledge necessary to lead the council into its future endeavors, but Pearce also developed an almost indescribable deeper inspiration for the organization.
“I didn’t think it was possible to become more passionate about this program and then I met the amazing people at Girls on the Run International,” Pearce said.
To make the transition as smooth as possible, Pearce will continue to work with GOTR veteran and program director, Lynn Laurence.
“Lynn’s knowledge and experience of GOTR would be hard to surpass,” Pearce said. “Her easy demeanor and clear direction give me the confidence that I can take our council to the next level while maintaining the integrity of the program.”
With substantial growth already under its belt and a vision for reaching more girls, the organization is looking to add to their staff in all areas including volunteer as well as part-time paid positions.
“One thing I really want to do is expand the number of girls that we impact,” Pearce said. “To accomplish this, we will need more volunteers and sponsors. I have big plans on how to develop those relationships.”
Though the spring 2014 season is many months away, GOTRNW staff is busy gearing up for their inaugural registration night Monday, Sept. 23, at LUHS. This evening will provide members of the community an opportunity to learn more about the organization as well as a chance to sign up their girls for the spring 2014 season.
Sadly, there were many girls who wanted to participate last season but because of lateness of the registrations, there was no time to recruit and train volunteer coaches. This evening should provide a solution to that problem.
GOTRNW is also busy planning the second annual Lunafest Film Festival Oct. 18, at Red Crown Lodge, which benefits the GOTRNW Scholarship Fund.
Various fundraisers are in the works as the council takes the off-season to raise enough money to provide scholarships for those in need. It is the policy of GOTRNW to not turn a girl away based solely on inability to pay.
Essentially, Pearce wants to continue the successes of Girls on the Run, while ensuring that every girl who wants to be a Girl on the Run gets the chance to be one.
“We will never turn a girl away because of an inability to pay; however, we will continue to seek new ways to sustain our organization financially,” Pearce said.
For more information about Girls on the Run, visit website www.GOTRnorthwoods.org or like them on Facebook at Girls on the Run of the Northwoods.