Not even a pandemic can stop Girls on the Run.

The nonprofit dedicated to inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy and confident has become well-known in Columbia and all over the country for the fun-filled 5k runs which bring together large groups of girls and their running buddies each semester as the Girls on the Run curriculum concludes.

COVID-19 has made events like that unsafe for now, but on Saturday, the organization still found a way to make the fun happen and give the girls the feeling of well-deserved accomplishment that in normal times comes with crossing the finish line to the cheers of a crowd and being handed a medal.

Girls on the Run leaders decided to make the event virtual. Executive Director Shannon Fountain led warmup and cooldown stretches via Facebook Saturday morning, encouraging the girls to join in whenever and wherever they can.

"We are so excited that we were able to get girls up and running again... or walking or skipping or jumping or rolling,” she said. “We are so glad to have our girls back together.”

The organization offered all sorts of online resources for the girls, like an activity card with everything from stretching instructions to encouragement like “list three things you’re proud of, then share with a friend.”

As always, the goal is to encourage girls to be strong and confident in themselves, in their own way.

“"Do whatever distance or workout is right for you, and have fun,” Fountain said. “I hope you are proud of finishing."

Girls on the Run will host its first ever day camp this summer, and Fountain said preparations for the fall are also underway already.

“We're ready for our girls to get back in person,” Fountain said.

More information on the camp and the fall season for girls as well as for those interested in volunteering as coaches and mentors is available at gotrcolumbia.org.

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