Girls On The Run reach the finish line

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 7, 2019

By Shavonne Walker

SALISBURY — Katelynn Bonds happily crossed the finish line in her first Girls on the Run 5K, but she didn’t do it by herself. The 9-year-old Faith Elementary School student completed the race with her mother, Jayme, and grandmother, Debbie Morris.

“I love that I get to play with friends,” Katelynn said smiling.

Each girl is paired in the race with a buddy — usually a parent, sibling or other family member.

The goal of Girls on the Run is to help build confidence and inspire girls to recognize their inner strength. It’s not even about how fast the girls run in the race, but whether they finish.

The girls prepare before the 5K by running two times a week for 10 weeks. Each session the girls have a lesson. Some lessons are to build confidence and others are to help them make connections with other girls their age.

There were 400 girls and about 400 or so buddies as well as public runners.

Although it’s her first 5K with Girls on the Run, Katelynn and her mother have also competed in another race.

Jayme said she loves that the program teaches her daughter to be active, which is something she’s been working on with Katelynn. In fact, Katelynn motivates her mother to get active.

Katelynn also rides her bicycle with her dad in the neighborhood.

Lyla Pennell, 8, of Statesville, ran with her dad, Byron. The pair were cheered on by her mother, Amanda.

Lyla said she learned from her coach to be kind and nice to others. She added that she liked running.

“It’s helped her strive for goals and it builds character,” Amanda said of her daughter.

Kara Crotts, 9, a Faith Elementary School fourth-grader ran in her third race. She set a personal goal of 30 minutes and nearly beat that goal by three minutes.

Kara’s running buddy was her mother, Tracy.

“I love seeing her build confidence,” Tracy said.

Jody Crotts said he was proud of his wife and daughter.

“They worked real hard. She trained over the summer,” he said of Kara.

Now that the race is over, Kara said the thing that she is most looking forward to is the hot chocolate party this coming week.

This race marked Kennedy Sims’ third. She ran with her mother, Amanda.

“I’m proud of myself,” Kennedy said.

“I like it,” said her mother, Amanda. “It teaches her to work well with others.”

The race is an opportunity for the girls to see all of their lessons in the 10 weeks come to fruition, said local coordinator Amy Spear.

Spear said the race was originally scheduled for December, but was postponed because of the snow storm. Organizers did have to change the course a little because of the rain, which created some mud. However, they were just grateful for the sunny weather.

This race was the first for Lola Stetic, 9, who ran with her sister, Gigi.

“It’s harder than I thought,” Lola said.

She practiced before the race by running at her school, Lakeshore Elementary School.

“It was hard, but fun,” said Gigi Stetic.

“I’m super proud,” said the girls’ father, John.

He said it was a way for Lola to be active and make friends.

This year marks 10 years since Jennifer Summers began Girls on the Run in Iredell County. She expanded her program into Girls on the Run of the Greater Piedmont.

“It’s an experiential running program that teaches life skills for girls,” Summers said.

To join a Girls on the Run program near you, visit for more details.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.