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Saying yes to a challenge can seem daunting and frightful for most, but has always been the goal of Georgetown College alum Jessica Leonard, '05. The four-year volleyball standout, multi-recorder holder and a 2013 Athletic Hall of Fame inductee has lived for that moment to rise to a challenge.
"Throughout my life, accepting a challenge has always been my thing," Leonard explains on her blog. "It started very early with athletics and after years of volleyball I was searching for my next challenge."
It did not take this Tiger long after graduation. Since Leonard had spent so many summers in preparation and training for the next season, she knew staying active was what she wanted. Her first step was into personal training and it has flourished into Ironman Triathlons.
Now it has become a way to also help young girls in the Cincinnati area learn to stay active and fit. Leonard is on a mission to fundraise $50,000 on her way to competing in Ironman Wisconsin. She has currently raised $25,000 with the event – 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run – set for Sept. 8.
"It's my third Ironman and first out of the state of Kentucky," Leonard said. "It is amazing to be able to challenge myself physically as well as to help fundraise for such an amazing cause. Girls on the Run is a non-profit organization that inspires pre-teen girls to be healthy and confident using a fun curriculum that creatively integrates running.
"The goal is to help girls understand the power of their potential through setting a goal and working hard to achieve it. We use exercise, positive reinforcement and encouraging role models to provide girls with the confidence they need in those critical pre-teen years."
Through a 12-week program of two 75-minute lessons per week, Girls on the Run combines running and walking games with various life skills, including lessons on healthy eating, body image, setting goals, cooperation and other age appropriate topics.
"The funds I collect will provide financial aid to those girls who wouldn't be able to participate without, as well as provide a sponsored pair of gym shoes to run in all season," Leonard said.
She is in her final stretch of this fundraising challenge, with just under 90 days left to collect almost half of what she set as her goal.
Leonard's blog lists more information about this mission, updates on the fundraising and her other events. A link to donate is also on that page and the challenge set before you now is help a fellow Tiger accomplish this goal. GO TIGERS. GO DONATE.