Ethiopian girls get a lift from DC-based Girls Gotta Run

Washington resident and former women’s studies professor Patricia Ortman was reading The Washington Post in her rocking chair one morning in December 2005 when her life changed course.

She read a story, “Facing Servitude, Ethiopian Girls Run for a Better Life,” that detailed the plight of young women in Ethiopia, many who find that running provides a bridge from poverty and teenage childbirth to education and independence. Among the hurdles was shoes, which girls described borrowing from their older brothers in pre-dawn hours so they could train.

“I thought, ‘It’s just shoes. There’s got to be a way to get girls some shoes, even in Ethiopia,’” Ortman says. “Ethiopia isn’t across the street, but it’s not solving the Middle East crisis, either.”

The resulting nonprofit organization, Girls Gotta Run, has raised more than $24,000 in the past two years to buy shoes, training clothes, food and other training essentials for Ethiopian girls training to become professional runners. Among its fund-raising events is an immensely popular art exhibit in which local artists design and sell artwork related to shoes, running and motion.

The organization has enriched the lives of not just Ethiopian girls, but of Washington women, such as board member Sheena Dahlke, who ran the 2009 Boston Marathon yesterday on behalf of the girls.

If you’re looking to raise money for a nonprofit during your next marathon, you’d be hard-pressed to find one more deserving than this one.

Remember to visit my DC Running Examiner page for some pictures from the Girls Gotta Run art show, and check back here later today for my take on running in Florida, where I lived for four years and am now visiting after a four-month hiatus.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Ethiopian girls get a lift from DC-based Girls Gotta Run

  1. Girls Gotta Run seems like a great cause to run for… will so be thinking about it!

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