Madison Brown, nominated by Girls on the Run

If there was anything holding her back that day, it was fear and uncertainty. What if her family didn’t show up to watch her run in her first race? She would be all alone. That’s when, Madison Brown, only a 16-year-old young lady herself, reached out to encourage that 9-year-old girl. “I explained to her that while I couldn’t promise that her family would be there for that race, I could promise that she could do it, and Girls on the Run (GoTR) would step in and be her second family.” Just hearing that people would be there for her made all the difference.

Madison Brown is still attending high school — but her sense of direction and care for others reaches beyond her 16 years. A member of GoTR herself, she became a GoTR Junior Coach this year. “I think it’s important to tell these girls they are worthy, they are valuable to family and friends. I want them to know they can be strong so they will value their own lives.”

“We tell the girls they are beautiful, but we also define what beauty is: It’s not just looks and how you dress, it is also how you act, and how you treat yourself and others. There are many ways that beauty can be perceived.”

Madison says that it’s important for girls to figure out who they are. “There was a time when I struggled with who I was, and how I defined myself,” she says.

“I thought it was based on which friends to follow and keep up with, while still trying to fit in with pop culture and making myself socially available. Then, I realized that these things don’t really matter to your character. I believe my role with GoTR can help me help girls as they struggle with these same things.”

“Madison represents the promise of future female leaders to me,” says Jess Sparks, of the Central Ohio GoTR. “She is an open-minded and kind student leader who seeks to create inclusive connections while creatively integrating fun into the experience.”

Madison is the youngest of three girls. She has learned from watching her sisters grow out of the phase of being dependent, to become strongly independent. “I have benefited from watching my sisters, my mentors, and my parents.”

Madison’s favorite way to help people is through tutoring, and she even tutors math students who are older than she is. “Just being able to pass on my knowledge, to help others learn and succeed makes me happy. 
 I like helping people learn to stand on their own two feet.”

A few weeks later when Madison saw that 9-year-old at the race, “she was all smiles.” She recognized that she could do this race on her own, whether her family was there or not. “Her father did end up being there, but the real victory is that when she decided to show up at that race and was determined to finish, she learned she could easily make friends and be comfortable whether she had to go out alone or not.”α

Below is the inspiring letter she wrote to win the 2011–2012 “How does Girls on the Run make you fearless?” Secret essay contest

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If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?

“I would change the basic, fundamental way that people treat each other. Nothing excuses a person from treating others with blatant disrespect and meanness. A little kindness can go a long way. Always think of how you want to be treated.”

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What is the most important piece of advice you would share with a young woman growing up today?

“Always be true to yourself and your values.”

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What’s your favorite quote?

“If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Originally published at soHza sister.