Thankful for girls…on the run or not!
In a season of thankfulness, a Batesville woman has plenty to be grateful for. Lynn Hertel, past council director of Girls on the Run Margaret Mary Health, resigned her position this summer after almost 16 years leading the program that has changed her life forever. According to Hertel, “It has been a true pleasure and joy building relationships over the years with girls, families, volunteers, vendors, schools, and MMH team members.”
When Lynn was invited to see what Girls on the Run was all about, she said, “I’m not a runner.” She soon learned she didn’t need to be a runner and discovered GOTR was more about building confidence and self-esteem, so she signed on for the challenge. Although, she can now boast that she has participated in a marathon and a half marathon to help raise money for the local council that she became passionate about.
She took the position to heart. At one point, GOTR Margaret Mary Health was nationally ranked number one in volunteer retention percentage wise. Lynn always did her best to ensure her volunteers had what they needed to be a successful coach from having the necessary materials to having the proper training.
Lynn said she had a lot of great help over the years and couldn’t have done it by herself. Many who talked about Lynn noted her drive, tenacity, organization, and encouraging attitude, and noted she was the definite leader of the program. Lynn gave accolades to the many coaches, volunteers, and especially her GOTR board.
At a small gathering at the Hertel home, her husband, Ric, said “She made volunteers out of non-volunteers,” to which those attending agreed. The volunteers grew, the girls grew, and Lynn grew as the years flew by.
“I was fortunate to touch the lives of over 7,000 girls in Ripley, Decatur, and Franklin counties. I have been blessed to work with over 1,000 volunteer coaches plus numerous 5K volunteers,” she wrote in a resignation letter. She will cherish the many memories she has tucked away from attending GOTR practices, coach trainings, advisory board meetings, and the many 5K celebrations.
Lynn believes so much in the program that bolsters the morale of girls in grades third, fourth and fifth, she wants everyone to know you “don’t have to run!” to be part of GOTR. Some comments made from the girls included “the program changed my life,” “I got friends,” and “I felt included.” That’s what it’s about. “They (the girls) are taught to dream big, believe in themselves, and work hard. If they do those things, they will reach their goals,” Lynn noted.
Lynn will cherish the many memories she has gained from the program. She has many emails, handwritten notes, and other things that will always remind her of the thankful hearts she related to. She is thankful, too. She will miss the hugs in Kroger’s, the waves at unsuspecting places, the high fives when she’s out and about, and the whispers from girls, “There she is!”
While Lynn said it was hard to close this chapter of her life, she knew it was time. She said some of the girls who participated in the program have now become coaches. She knows the program will continue with the volunteers and schools she’s worked with over the years. Lynn shared “Kristin Rowland has stepped into my position, and she is fabulous. I wish her the very best.”
Her favorite year? Well, that was easy. “It was fall 2022,” she noted, citing the big snowflakes that began to gently fall, and then fall a little harder! It set the tone for that fall run. It had never snowed during her 16 years of hosting GOTR 5K events. The snow didn’t slow the girls down. In fact, the snow added a little ambience to the music and fun, and the girls squealed with delight as they dug through the snow-covered table to uncover their post 5K snacks.
Being organized was Lynn’s best quality throughout her time with GOTR. She said she is persistent, loves to relate to families and volunteers and has talked, listened, trained and taken multiple phone calls over the years. It never felt like work because the end rewards were the girls who will now go out and make a difference in the world.
“Thank you for the beautiful memories and overwhelming support,” she told The Versailles Republican.