Girls on the Run honors volunteer of the year

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) When you look up volunteer in the dictionary, it's defined as a person who performs a service willingly and without pay. Girls on the Run-Sierras says that is the perfect way to describe its Volunteer of the Year. Sarah Elkins is a fitness instructor in Reno and says she thought she was helping with exercise and never knew how much more her life would be enhanced.

She explains, “I'm a product of programs like this, growing up in church, playing sports, doing campfires and things like that, that really help shape you as a human being." Elkins has been involved with the non-profit for four years.

The organization aims to create an environment where young girls in third through fifth grade unleash their unlimited potential to pursue their dreams and boost self-esteem, while creatively intertwining running into the curriculum.

“It makes me more confident in our future because we are training these girls to do all that we as adults are reading in these self-help books, and so it's really cool to see that get initiated at such a young age,” Elkins adds. She has a fitness background, which is how she got involved, but says she quickly realized this program is helping her as much as it is the participants.

Imagine the surprise when balloons show up to honor Elkins as the organization's Volunteer of the Year. "It’s so much about practicing what you preach. And I love that it keeps me accountable to being a good example in my community,” she says.

Girls on the Run is active in almost 30 Washoe County elementary schools; as Elkins explains, “They don't have to run, they can come and just be outside and its beautiful and we slowly work some of them into it but the ones who love it; they just get out there and they're inspiring each other through that.”

Now this is where you come in, because donations are the core. Whether you're able to sponsor a child, help with a pair of sneakers, buy a few shirts or volunteer. Whatever you can give, Elkins says, will have a priceless impact on our next generation, adding, “It means so much to the girls and you can see a change in them when they realize their community is backing them up.”

Girls on the Run-Sierras is a 2018 KOLOCares Pillar Partner.