Man willing to don pink miniskirt to help girls’ running group
by Staff Writer
To help girls boost their health and their self-esteem, Robert Bales is willing to run a half-marathon in a pink miniskirt.
That is, if enough volunteers pony up to help him reach his fundraising goal.
For the past six years, Bales has been the treasurer for Girls On The Run, a Charlotte-based organization that mixes the physical activity of running with life lessons.
Girls in grades three through eighth meet in small groups, practicing teamwork and learning to deal with problems they’ll face as they mature.
Bales became involved when his daughter Emily joined the program as a seventh-grader at Bradley Middle School.
“It’s about developing self-confidence, to have this person who’s not a runner, who has the goal of running a 5K,” Bales said. “I think it really inspired her to be her own person.”
He said Emily, now a high school junior, has taken a leadership role at her school.
He grew so passionate about the program and its potential that he got involved in Girls On The Run, serving as a board member and treasurer.
As his term of service ends, Bales has decided to be bold.
If he raises a total of $5,000 before the Dec. 3 Huntersville Half-marathon, Bales has agreed to run the entire 13.2 miles in a pink miniskirt.
It’s more than just a chance to have fun, he said.
“We’re really trying to be proactive in getting Girls On The Run out there,” Bales said.
D.C. Lucchesi, whose daughter Kellen is a third-grader at Cotswold Elementary, is now a coach.
He said he got involved in the program when he and his wife had daughters and he wanted to gain perspective on their lives.
“You learn about what it’s like to be a girl in this world,” he said. “That’s important if you’re going to be a father, a caregiver or a coach to a girl.”
Lucchesi said he has learned how girls in this age range face problems and situations that are different from what boys their age might deal with. As runners in training, he said, they develop confidence as well as physical stamina.
On Dec. 3, the inaugural Girls On The Run 5K will be held at the Huntersville Business Park. Race organizer Jessica Otto said she expects a high turnout for the non-competitive race. As of Monday, she said, over 1,300 runners had already signed up.
All current Girls On The Run participants in the district are automatically registered, Otto said. In addition to the girls and their buddies, coaches and family members, other runners are allowed and encouraged to enter.
Unlike most competitive races, the atmosphere should be more relaxed and celebratory.
“I’m just going to be there cheering those girls on,” Otto said. “For a lot of these girls, it’s their first 5K.”
She said the race will allow those girls, their coaches and their friends to join in celebrating their accomplishments.
The most important fundraising task, he said, will be providing scholarships.
“The girls who need the program often can’t afford it,” Bales said.
More information on the program is available at www.girlsontherun.org.
For details about this weekend’s Girls On The Run 5K, go to www.sportoften.com/events/eventDetails.cfm?pEventId=7682.
How to give
To donate to Robert Bales’ cause visit www.girlsontherun.org and click on the Contribute tab. Put “Robert Bales” or “Pink Miniskirt” in the subject line.