Ivey on the run

Bethel resident takes on 15K for Girls on the Run
By Rachel Robles, Lifestyles editor | Jun 05, 2014
Photo by: Donated IVEY ON THE RUN — Laura Ivey ran the Biltmore/Kiwanis 15K/5K Classic as her SoleMate fundraiser for Girls on the Run.

Laura Ivey, of Bethel, is not an athlete. Yet at age 35, she braved the early morning wakeup call and drizzly, overcast skies and ran the 15K in the 17th annual Biltmore/Kiwanis 15K/5K Classic on May 18.

And she did it with a smile.

Ivey’s used the race as a fundraising opportunity for the Western North Carolina chapter of Girls on the Run, a 12-week program that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident by using a fun, experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running.

“Girls on the Run has a goal to do their best to never turn away a girl because of financial need,” said Ivey. “And so SoleMates help with that.”

The SoleMates program is a charity running initiative that provides adults an opportunity to raise money for GOTR while training for the athletic event of their choice. SoleMates can run in a marathon or 10K as a fundraiser for Girls on the Run in their community.

“I had looked at being a SoleMate for about two and a half years,” said Ivey. “But I kept thinking, ‘I don’t know if I can get up to a half marathon and finish before they pack up the finish line.’”

Ivey first discovered Girls on the Run about three years ago; she saw GOTR doing a dual fundraiser at a retail outlet store.

“I remember thinking, ‘Oh, that’s a cool idea,’” said Ivey. “So I Googled them when I got home. I would have loved to have a program like that at my age.”

The GOTR curriculum combines training for and completing a non-competitive 5K (3.1 miles) running event with self-esteem enhancing, uplifting team exercise activities and a community service project. Through the program, girls are empowered with a greater self-awareness, a sense of achievement and a foundation in team building to help them become strong, contented and self-confident young women.

“It’s a rough age,” said Ivey. “You get a lot of mixed messages about self-esteem and your body and image, and it’s also an age where girls start bullying. And I would have loved to have had that positive influence.”

After two and a half years of putting it off, Ivey finally committed to being a SoleMate.

“You have to commit to raising a minimum of $250 and I kept thinking, ‘I don’t know if I can come up with that. Can I even hit 13.1 miles?’” she said. “And at the beginning of the year, I decided it’s just time to do this. And I signed up for the 15K. I just thought, ‘This is the year.’”

The 15K, roughly 9.3 miles, is the furthest distance she’s ever attempted.

“I didn’t want to ask people to donate to something I had already done before,” said Ivey. “I wanted it to be work for me, too.”

She put up a notice on Facebook and sent out several emails. Within four days, her family and friends donated the required $250. She also did a big push for micro-donations for $1, $3, or $5.

She started training on her treadmill in January, running three to four days a week. When the time came for the race, she had no illusions about winning.

“I’m not fast. I think in distance instead of time,” said Ivey. “I’ll never break a land speed record. I just wanted to make a difference.”

Ivey placed eighth from last, but still managed to raise $520 for GOTR. In a final fundraising push before the race, she posted on Facebook that, as a thank you to anyone who donated on the day before the race, she would write their name somewhere on her body on race day. Among the names written in brown athletic pen on her arms and T-shirt were Metro Wines, Smoky Mountain Dog Bakery and Frog Level Brewing Company.

“I really wanted to promote this because I wanted to show that you don’t have to come in first place to go and do this,” said Ivey. “I will tell anybody that I came in eighth from last. There is no part in me that’s ashamed of that.”

Thanks to grants, sponsorships and fundraising efforts like the SoleMates program, nearly $78,000 scholarships were awarded in 2013 and no girl was turned away due to financial constraints.

To learn more about Girls on the Run or the SoleMates program, visit www.gotrwnc.org.