Making A Difference with Team Girl Up

Advocacy , Events

By Sofia Stafford

I did it! Earlier this month, I crossed the finish line after 26.2 miles! I was proud to cross the finish line at the 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, but I was even more proud to cross it running for Team Girl Up. Last spring, I decided to run this marathon during my final year of college to fulfill two goals: run my first marathon and raise money to support girls around the world so they too can receive an education that empowers them to reach their goals.

Sofia and Christina before the race

With the support of weekly emails from our Girl Up running and fundraising coaches (shout out to Sara and Julie!) who sent us ideas, tips, and inspiration, I hit the ground running. Girl Up’s marathon plan helped me figure out what I needed to be doing in order to succeed on marathon day. I was lucky enough to train with one of my fellow team members and always felt supported by my coaches. On days when the last thing I wanted to do was lace up my sneakers and go for a run, I reminded myself about how each mile I ran would be helping to make a difference for girls in Liberia to the United States. On marathon day, at every mile along the course, I thought of a girl or woman in my life who inspires me or has made me the person I am today.

Together, our team of five runners raised $14,882 for Girl Up and UN programs helping the hardest to reach girls living in places it’s hardest to be a girl. Every dollar we raised will enable girls to receive an education, stay safe from violence, and access the healthcare they need. The money will also go to support Girl Up’s leadership development program for girls in the U.S.

Sofia with medal

Before Team Girl Up, I wasn’t much of a runner. People ask me if I am going to run another marathon, now that I have run my first one. My response is always: only if I have a reason I care about enough to do so. For me, Girl Up was that reason. As a former Teen Advisor and someone who has had the opportunity to see first hand the impact Girl Up programs in Guatemala are having, I could not have been more motivated to achieve my marathon goal.

So, if you are thinking about running a half marathon or marathon and need a reason or motivation to do it, join Team Girl Up for one of these upcoming races in 2017:

  • Miami Marathon & Half Marathon (January 29)
  • DC Rock n’ Roll Marathon & Half Marathon (March 11)
  • Sketchers Performance LA Marathon & Charity Relay (March 19)
  • United Airlines NYC Half (March 19)
  • Bank of America Chicago Marathon (October 8)
  • Philadelphia Marathon & Half Marathon (November 18-19)

You can also join Team Girl Up by registering for an Independent Event, which means you can sign up for any race and run it as part of our program.

Your strength may surprise you! I loved my marathon journey with Team Girl Up, and I hope you all will consider taking the ride.

Register Today

Sofia Stafford, Girl Up Regional Leader and Teen Advisor 2012-13