Dec 10, 2010

Posted in News and Press

GOTR inspires Nashville woman

Carla Snodgrass picture from The Tennessean

Samuel M. Simpkins/The Tennessean

December 9, 2010
By: Nicole Young
The Tennessean
Link to story

Carla Snodgrass remembers the moment when she decided to change her life and start running.

She was watching a group of young girls, mostly preteens from Girls on the Run Nashville, run in their first 5K race for charity, her charity, Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee, in December 2008.

“Many of them had never ever been exposed to any type of physical activity,” said Snodgrass, 57, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee and a South Nashville resident.

“They were so excited about it. They could have been a little overweight or short or never encouraged, but they stepped out of their comfort zone. And, I thought if they could do that, then so could I.”

In the two years that followed that race, Snodgrass hit the gym and lost 100 pounds.

In January, she joined a weight management group that emphasizes diet, exercise and positive body image for extra encouragement.

She started running races last summer. She has completed 12 5Ks, five 10Ks and four half-marathons.

In her class, she has placed at the top in several events, including first at the Snap on Tools 5K and second at the Hendersonville Memorial Day 10K.

“I’m not a very fast runner, but I’m persistent,” Snodgrass said. “I’ve always had in my head to finish and do the best I can do.”

It’s that attitude that inspires Girls on the Run council director and coach Jennifer Kimball.

Just as her girls motivated Snodgrass to get moving two years ago, Snodgrass is now motivating the girls, Kimball said.

“She reminds us that at any age we can set goals of any kind, including physical,” Kimball said.

Through Girls on the Run, a volunteer-run program that teaches girls about fitness and healthy lifestyles, Snodgrass has become a buddy, teaming up to run with the girls at practice.

The goal of the 12-week program is to teach the girls to run a 5K, play games, and talk about self-esteem, body image and any other issues girls deal with at that age.

At the conclusion of the program, the girls run the Snowflake 5K for Snodgrass’ charity. This year will mark the third year of the partnership, Kimball said.

“I wasn’t quite sure how third- and fourth-grade girls would handle learning about child abuse,” Kimball said. “They’re very sensitive and empathetic at that age. They seem to feel everyone’s pain. They were so concerned about the children of the families served and didn’t understand why a parent would abuse a child.

“Carla explained that abusive parents were most often abused themselves as children, and that (her agency) teaches them how to be good parents, so that their children can be good parents and the cycle of abuse can be broken.”

To compete in the Snowflake 5K, participants pay $25. All of the funds benefit Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee.

More than 500 people are expected to run in Saturday’s race, held at Shelby Bottoms Park. Although the partnership with Girls on the Run is relatively new, the race isn’t. It’s in its seventh year, Snodgrass said.

She hopes to see it get bigger every year, to have more runners join in the fun.

“When you run, you run to make yourself better,” she said. “You’re not running to compete with the person beside you. When you practice and get out, you win.

“I look at it this way: Even if I’m the only person in the race, I’ve won against all the people who didn’t get out of their house and race.”

To learn more about Girls on the Run Nashville and to find out how you can get involved, visit the website.