PATERSON, N.J. — Emotions ran high in a Jersey City classroom when a group of underprivileged young girls received brand new pairs of sneakers, thanks to a Paterson-based organization requesting anonymity.
The athletes — who got their shoes last week — are members of international running and empowerment program Girls on the Run's latest Jersey City site "New City," also made possible by the donations.
"Those girls never had a brand new pair of sneakers — none of them," GOTR program coordinator Melissa Fagersten said. "These girls needed it badly."
GOTR is an international program that encourages girls to understand who they are and embrace running. The program has sites in Englewood, Cresskill, Glen Rock, Ridgewood, Wyckoff, Mahwah, Ramsey, Saddle River, Ringwood and West Milford.
Young athletes meet with volunteer coaches twice weekly for 10 to 12 weeks with the ultimate goal being the completion of a 5K race.
The New City site has been a long time coming for GOTR officials.
"Jersey City is pretty much all young executives, so they don't typically have a lot of time," Fagersten said. "But we were able to find two women who just had some job flexibility [to coach] and they said 'Let's do this.'"
GOTR is looking to expand in cities like Paterson but first need to find space.
"We're hoping to be there soon," she said.
MORE INFO: Visit Girls on the Run's website.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.