One by one guests filed in the Wicker Park Social Center on Indianapolis Blvd, with smiles on their faces and gym shoes on their feet. The border of the room displayed tables filled with a variety of raffle prizes from jewelry to Disney tickets and weekend getaways in Lake Geneva.
Returning coaches, friends and families exchanged hugs and laughter. Many attendees were in awe at the colorful centerpieces of 1,200 donated pairs of sneakers from ASICS, a giant sneaker cake and cupcakes donated from the Horseshoe Casino and a wide spread of candy donated by Albanese Confectionery.
“Girls on the Run of Northwest Indiana is thrilled to be the recipient of 1,200 pairs of high quality running shoes to support the girls in our program this year,” said development director, Lauren Lauer. “The donation was made possible through the ASICS Extra Mile campaign, a multi-channel national brand campaign that resulted in the donation of over 50,000 pairs of running shoes to Girls on the Run programs across the country.”
It was not long before music from the Chicago band, Spoken Four, had everyone on the dance floor dancing to hit songs from the 80’s to today’s popular hits. The atmosphere and high energy of the music, food and friendships reflected how far Girls on the Run of Northwest Indiana has come through the 10 years of dedication to inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy and confident.
During the band’s intermission, executive director and founder of Girls on the Run of NWI, Jill Schlueter-Kim shared stories about the transformation of the program and how it has grown from one team of 15 girls in 2006 to now serve over 2,000 girls annually across NWI. Schlueter-Kim shared a story about her second group of girls in 2008 and their trip to a Chicago 5k run.
“When I think about how I’m feeling tonight, celebrating our ten-year anniversary I remember our second group of girls in 2008,” Schlueter-Kim said. “I remember waiting at the finish line. One of our girls that crossed looked fatigued. I asked how she felt and I thought she would respond saying she awful. But she looked up at me and said proud. So tonight, that’s how I’m truly feeling, proud of how far we’ve all come.”
The girls on the Run of NWI team expressed their gratitude to their sponsors: presenting marathon sponsor, Bozovich Wellness Center, half marathon sponsor, Horseshoe Casino, Lady’s Gourmet and Albanese Confectionery.
The Sneaker Soiree is the primary fund raising event for Girl on the Run of Northwest Indiana. It benefits the organization’s efforts to bring the program to as many girls as possible and helps provide financial assistance to over 60% of program participants. As a non-profit serving over 2,000 girls annually across Northwest Indiana, GOTR of NWI relies on the support of the community.
“We are thrilled by the amount raised at our inaugural Sneaker Soiree,” Lauer said. “The funds will make a big impact on our ability to continue to provide the program at a reasonable cost to girls from low income families in our community. Not only did we raise a lot of money for the charity, we established a unique, fun event for our supporters that we are looking forward to growing in the future years.”