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It's time to celebrate being a girl

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The Lebanon Enterprise Main Street Treadmill Challenge raises more than $4,000 for Girls on the Run program

By Stevie Lowery

If you saw a crowd of people running on treadmills on Main Street in Lebanon Friday, along with a life-size bulldog doing the humpty dance, don't freak out. You weren't seeing things.

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Friday, The Lebanon Enterprise hosted its first annual Main Street Treadmill Challenge.

The event's goal was two-fold:

One, to raise money for Girls on the Run;

And, two, to promote health and wellness in our community.

I'm proud to say that the event was an enormous success.

Besides having one treadmill that didn't want to cooperate, the 12-hour event was darn near perfect.

More than 46 people laced up their tennis shoes and kept our treadmills moving - on Main Street no less. From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., community volunteers and local "celebrities" ran or walked for 30 minutes (or longer) to raise money for Girls on the Run.

Working out on a treadmill on Main Street... that takes some guts, people.

And, we're so grateful for the brave souls who participated.

In addition to our walkers and runners, the Glasscock Elementary School Bulldog kept everyone entertained with her excellent dance moves, and the Marion County FFA helped fuel our participants and other hungry folks with food throughout the day.

Two very special participants, Greg and Nisha West, biked 102 miles from Monticello to Lebanon before taking to the treadmill. They started their trek at approximately 7 a.m., and arrived in Lebanon at approximately 4:30 p.m. But, what makes Greg and Nisha West and their 102-mile bike ride even more amazing is that they volunteered to do it. They wanted to add their own little twist to the Treadmill Challenge. They certainly accomplished that and much more. We can't thank them enough for their selfless act.

At the end of the day, I hope we helped inspire some people to start a workout regimen of their own, and we raised more than $4,000 for Girls on the Run.

To say that I am beaming with pride would be an understatement.

You see, the Girls on the Run program holds a very special place in my heart, which is why I'm so passionate about it and focused on making sure as many local girls as possible get a chance to experience it. While the program has been active across the nation for years, it's new to Marion County. Last year, Lee Morgeson, physical education teacher at Glasscock Elementary School, and myself started the program locally with nine girls. The program combines training for a 3.1 mile running event (a 5K) with self-esteem enhancing, uplifting workouts. The 12-week program ends when the girls run a 5K in Lexington, an accomplishment very few, if any, of them dreamed they would ever achieve.

But, their accomplishments go far beyond running 3.1 miles.

The Girls on the Run program helps girls gain self-confidence. Last year, I witnessed this program transform some very timid, insecure girls into confident, brave, amazing human beings. To witness that firsthand was incredible.

The program also helps train girls on how to be assertive and respond to peer pressure and bullying. They learn to stand up for what they believe in, and focus on their unique strengths and talents.

The program also teaches girls that they, too, can make a difference and have an impact in their community.

Above all else, the program teaches them to celebrate being a girl.

And, like any worthwhile program, the Girls on the Run program costs money. Thanks to this supportive community, we will have enough money to fully fund the program at two schools this year, if not more.

My ultimate goal is to have the Girls on the Run program at every elementary school in the district.

Thanks to this giving, caring community, I'm well on my way to achieving that goal.

Thank you, Marion County.

To learn more about Girls on the Run, visit www.girlsontherun.org/.