Fifty years after the first female, Kathrine Switzer, raced in the Boston Marathon sending an empowering message to females around the globe, Harvard Law Student, Neha Sabharwal, ran the marathon hoping to relay the same message to young girls in the greater Boston area.
Sabharwal ran for the Girls on the Run marathon team, which raised money to benefit Girls on the Run, a national organization that empowers girls from third to eighth grade through a motivational curriculum based upon running.
Sabharwal got involved with the organization when she herself began running as an undergraduate student at Duke University, and continued her involvement when she began law school at Harvard University. Her love for running developed alongside the girls’ who she coached and mentored in the program.
“[Girls on the Run] provides a really healthy environment that fosters what we think is truly an opportunity to push self-esteem development and honestly, through teamwork itself, which is a really beautiful thing,” said Sabharwal. “And they get to become confident through sheer physical strength and fitness, which is something we do think is a natural form of empowerment for girls.”
For the marathon, Sabharwal along with her teammates who also have been engaged with Girls on the Run, raised almost $100,000 for the organization.
“Our policy is to not turn any girl away based on her family’s ability to pay for the program, so the runners are helping to raise scholarship funds for girls otherwise can’t afford the program,” said Bethany McDonald, the executive director of the Greater Boston Girls on the Run chapter.
After completing the marathon with a 4:24:44 time, Sabharwal hopes that girls realize their potential through the sport of running.
“I think that’s just a powerful reminder that this sport is really something that both men and women can do equally well and equally beautifully,” she said.