Lexington Catholic senior Michaela Reinhart, who’s won the last two Class 2A girls’ cross country championships and is a two-time Gatorade Kentucky runner of the year recipient, had the opportunity to present a grant to a local running organization last week.
Reinhart surprised Girls on the Run Central Kentucky with one of 12 national Gatorade Play It Forward grants on April 20. The award is valued at $10,000 and will allow GOTR to sponsor five new teams in the coming year.
“Lots of girls will get to participate who wouldn’t have normally,” Reinhart said in a phone interview.
Reinhart previously was able to award a $1,000 grant to GOTR by virtue of winning the Gatorade state award in January. State winners had to submit essays for their selected organization to be considered for the $10,000 award.
LexCath Cross Country Coach Bernadette Madigan-Dugan — the kids call her “Coach Bernie” — helped found the Girls on the Run chapter in Lexington and suggested it to Reinhart.
“I thought that was a great idea,” Reinhart said. “ … I was very surprised when (my essay) was chosen, and very happy.”
In her essay, Reinhart wrote about how girls and women around the world are expected to act or behave certain ways, and that running can liberate them from societal pressures.
“Running is very unique in that it can be a huge team sport where you pull each other along, but it can also be a very individualistic sport and kind of allows you to look into yourself and see yourself,” Reinhart said. “I think running is very special in that it allows young girls, especially in the culture of today, to be themselves unapologetically.”