Thursday, May 13, 2010

Batman Bill

“A child’s hand in yours…what tenderness it arouses, what power it conjures. You are instantly the very touchstone of wisdom and strength.”
Marjorie Holmes

Today’s Blog Entry is going to be extraordinary…extraordinarily different. Different because I’m not going to write it. I’m going to use the words of someone who recently wrote to me about the impact the program has had on HIM. Yes…I did say HIM. I’m finding, seeing and feeling the impact this program is having on the men of this world, more and more every day. It’s such a beautiful, beautiful thing to see how many men have shown up, laced up their shoes and run, stride for stride, side by side, their little girls in all of the New Balance Girls on the Run 5k’s I’ve attended.

The letters and emails I get from these fabulous guys reinforce that love abounds in the hearts and minds of the men who take the time to tenderly tread that starting line with their daughters!

And so, please take the time to read the beautiful letter that follows. I asked Bill if it would be alright for me to share this and his response…”ABSOLUTELY!”
So here goes. Bill…you have NO idea how much your “man-influence” not only impacts the girls you directly serve, but all of us connected to Girls on the Run.
Rock on there, Mister.

“Dearest Molly,

My name is Bill or my coaching name the girls gave me is "Batman Bill". I am an assistant coach at Reidenbaugh elementary in the Lancaster, PA chapter. First I want to say, Carrie Johnson and Jennifer West are amazing directors and have made it so easy for us to focus on the girls and not the nitty gritty stuff. We are one week away from our 5K and there is a buzz of excitement around these parts.

I just wanted to share with you my experience from a "Mancoach's" point of view.

I got involved when I was looking for races to run, as I am training for the Athens Classic Marathon that is the 2500th anniversary of the birth of the marathon, It will actually be running on the original road from the town of Marathon to Athens, how cool is that?

I am not a runner, at least I wasn't when I decided to run a marathon. I literally started running the first week of December. So I am online one night in the winter and am looking up 5K races to sign up for to get some races under my belt and I see GOTR 5K. What’s this? So I read all about you and the program and was amazed.

I have three kids an 11 year old daughter, a 6 year old son and a 4 year old daughter. I was so impressed with the work that you are doing. I had to know if there was one in my daughter’s school. I emailed Jen and asked if my painting business could be a sponsor for the race and if they had a team at Reidenbaugh. I also wanted to know if there was any way I could volunteer as I believed that this was a worthy cause. Her response was yes, and yes, and she went on to say if I wanted to be a positive male role model, it would greatly be appreciated.

Wow! As you know it is tough to carve out two afternoons a week when you are in a contracting business, but worth every extra hour I had to tack on to other days to make up for the time.

It has been such a privilege to work with all these beautiful women. In today’s world, Dads are working long hours, or if they coach, it's a sport, soccer, T-ball, etc. but running? And it's not really coaching. It is encouraging, teaching, challenging, reflecting, being a role model, conversing. I think this job is way more fulfilling and harder as we tackle life's issues in these little lady’s lives. I think it is a tougher job than just coaching a sport. You have to be transparent and be completely real and not so tough, at least as a "Mancoach.”

It has taught me to be more compassionate and to understand my daughter more. Our relationship has grown exponentially. This has just been an amazing experience.

Last week we ran our practice 5K in the rain, all girls present completed it, the last girl to come in had many of her teammates run out and cheer her on as she came in. I started to tear up, but quickly hid it as I haven't completely climbed out of my "Boy Box.” I kid, but it truly changed me.

ME being the "fun Dad" and an energetic Adult ADD-er, I somehow introduced the Banana cheer earlier on in the season. So at the end of the 5K practice run, with many parents standing around, the girls begged me to lead the Banana cheer! I have to say it was not easy as a guy to do the Banana cheer let alone in front of parents, but it was very freeing.

That is one thing about GOTR. It is freeing. It helps these girls untie the chords that hold them in that box and allows them to stretch out their wings and fly.

Thank you so much for your sincerity, transparentness and passion. It truly shows to our girls and their parents all the way from the top.

So far as the Azalea T-shirt color this season, when I first heard that color, I thought, “You gotta be kidding me!” I never have and never will wear Pink! You can call it Azalea, but guys don't equate flowers with colors. It's pink and I don't want to wear it.

Well I wore it proudly on our practice 5K and many cars passed by the school as I was running, and I really don't care anymore what people think, because I have a healthier self image from this experience as well. Thanks Molly, I can't say it enough.

Bill Caloviras”

(I just re-read this again and feel myself tearing up…again. Oh my goodness, who would have EVER thought when I started this program, I’d be getting letters like this. Again…gratitude abounds.)

What moved you in Bill’s letter? Please let me know at


  1. If you'll pardon the expression, Bill is THE MAN! Similarly to Bill, I doubt I'd be considered the prototypical person to want to help Girls on the Run. I'm 32 years old, I have no kids and I didn't even have a sister growing up (I'm one of 3 siblings, all boys).

    However, when my niece asked me for the first time to run a Girls on the Run 5k with her in Fayetteville, AR because she thought I was was a "professional runner" I couldn't say no! By the way, my niece thought I was a professional because I happened to own a pair of running shoes, not because I can actually RUN (I can't!).

    By now I have logged 1,000's of countless miles in the name of Girls on the Run - specifically for councils in Missouri. Furthermore, my wife and I have raised well over $10,000 for the same programs in the last 24 months. I hate to brag, but the awareness & funds we've raised for Girls on the Run are EASILY the running accomplishments I'm most proud of.

    As a young professional, people don't "get" why I would run crazy distances for, or devote afternoons to, the kids like the ones at Griffith Elementary in Ferguson, MO.

    But you know what? Terrific Taylor and I will cross the 5k finish line this Sunday in Forest Park (St. Louis) and it will be one of the most empowering and rewarding experiences in both our lives.

    ALWAYS getting back far more than I've have given has been my consistent experience with these young ladies and their mentors/coaches.

    Even if only one young lady is better off for me having given a little of my own time, sweat & money - then it's been worth the effort.

    Great job Bill! You are INSTANTLY A HERO OF MINE - and thanks for setting an example for the rest of us!

    Best from St. Louis...


  2. Jason, thanks for Speaking up, you too are my hero, you are doing exactly whats been on my heart. As I am out training for my marathon in October, I am constantly thinking about how I can use it to make a difference. thanks for sharing all the details, you aren't bragging by any means. I have to laugh, when I first signed up to volunteer, and walked into the initial coaches training meeting and noticed that I am the only "mancoach" I was slightly uncomfortable, especially when they said with glee we get Azalea colored shirts this year, (I had no clue what hue of pink Azalea was and we even have an azalea bush in our front yard) I was also a little hesitant to share that I was an assistant coach, you know the whole girl/guy box thing! what would my "lets grab some beers and hotwings" buddies say? but after wearing the "pink" and spending time with some amazing girls and coaches, I am so proud to say I was a part of something so much bigger than my little "guy world". you are a few steps ahead of me, I hope that more guys like you come out of the wood work. I just poked around your blog and am inspired by you, thanks Hero


  4. BIG LOVE to all of you. As more of us that see the real within each other speak up, the greater chance the false will lose its power.