You go girl! 253 girls in first fall run
Race may be county’s biggest

Girls on the Run


Over 650 people ran in the GOTR race Saturday. Left, Alexis Wood of Greensburg, Alayna Berwick and Audriana Bryant, both JCD students, were ready to run! Above, Jason Lillis runs with daughters, Renee and Lucy, Milan students, toward the finish line.

Mary Mattingly

By the looks of it you wouldn’t think these hundreds of little girls were about to run a 5K. They looked more like they were ready for a sleepover, a birthday party or even a Disney princess parade! They donned brightly colored tutus over sweat pants, wore crazy knee high socks instead of athletic socks, and painted their faces and hair a rainbow of colors. Their attached angel wings, pink netted capes and halos flapped as they jogged by.

Girls will be girls, and the Girls on the Run program encourages them to be just that. “It is so much fun!” Audriana Bryant, a Jac-Cen-Del fifth grader said as she waited for the start of the race. Her goal was to finish in 38:22, at least as good as she did last spring. She was running with teammate, Alayna Berwick, a JCD fourth grader and Alexis Wood of Greensburg. Alayna was excited. “I want to run two miles…maybe the whole thing!”

Many may have heard about the nationwide Girls on the Run afterschool program. It has been in this area for 10 years, and is one of the youth programs sponsored by Margaret Mary Health. Eight schools, including Milan, South Ripley, Jac-Cen-Del and Batesville, make up 16 teams of third to fifth graders. Decatur County is also part of GOTR.

GOTR inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun experience based curriculum which creatively integrates running.
Saturday’s 5K non-competitive run in Batesville was the culmination of the fall program. It was also the first time the program offered a fall run, but it won’t be the last. The turnout was great. “It was amazing,” Lynn Hertel, council director said. They had 650 register, and of those about 253 were girls in the program. It’s very likely the biggest race in the area.
“Girls will be girls”

The gray skies and rain held out as the girls and their siblings, parents, coaches and mentors either ran with them or stood alongside the race path to encourage support. Hertel said they have run or walked in 10 degree weather, so this balmy 50-something temperature was nothing to daunt the excited spirit of the girls.

One GOTR “Running Angel” and past coach, Janie Craig, wearing a glitter-wired halo with her running gear, enthusiastically encouraged her young charges with tips. “Let’s run past two telephone poles! It’s good to set small goals. Who’s in? OK….Let’s go!” And she and an entourage of young girls picked up their feet at the first mile of the race. Craig is one of several adult women sprouting wings along the race. “This was something new we started last year,” Hertel explained, “to help the local girls and runners ‘fly along to the finish line.’ ”

The run is a celebration of, and for , girls who are completing a 10 week season of GOTR.

Parents like Jason Lillis of Moores Hill was all for it. “I think it’s great. This is the second year my girls have participated. I like that it encourages physical fitness and they really enjoy it.” It gets them off the couch and funnels their energy in a positive way, he said. He and his 4th grade daughters, who attend Milan Elementary, ended the race holding hands, finishing in 29:18.

One grandparent on the sidelines exclaimed “We never thought she could run from one block to the next! And there she goes,” Donna Powell of Decatur County said. “I am so impressed. This is an awesome program.” Amy Linkel was running alongside her South Ripley third grade daughter, Brionna. Her daughter was a bit anxious prior to the race, but hoped to finish the 5K in 36 minutes.

The teams meet twice a week for 75 minutes, and depending on the size of the team, each have two to three coaches. The spring program will start in February and volunteer coaches are needed. Hertel said it is not imperative they are runners, and the coaches don’t even have to run. It’s more important they are dependable and enthusiastic, she said. A written curriculum is provided. For more information about the program, contact Hertel at


Nugent responds to allegations

A front page article in the Indianapolis Star on Nov. 3 questioned the actions of three area lawmakers in regard to casino money links and grants.

Former state representative Bob Bischoff was cited for supporting a $1.85 million government grant that benefited a single company, one that his son and nephew own. State Senator Johnny Nugent (district 43) was singled out for supporting a $500,000 grant to Zimmer Tractor Co., the same company that purchased his business and pays him $3,000 a month in rent. And State Rep. Jud McMillin, who ousted Bischoff in 2010 for the district 68 seat, voted in favor of the same grant without revealing his law firm represented them.

Ripley Publishing contacted Nugent’s office for a response, and this is the statement he released. “I am proud of the millions of dollars the city of Lawrenceburg’s grant program has invested into our community. Economic development and job creation have occurred, as we envisioned when local officials and legislators created the grant program. “It means the world to me to see all of the good that this program has done for Southeast Indiana. ”I’d like to set the record straight about the recent sale of my business. In March 2012, I sold Nugent Tractor Sales to Zimmer Tractor because they were interested in purchasing my business and I was ready to retire. “I was unaware of Zimmer Tractor’s construction grant application until they asked me to support it, after the sale of my business. Over the years, I’ve been asked to be a reference for dozens of local companies’ grant applications, and I supported Zimmer like most others because I believed their job commitment was good for the economy and people of our area. “I am confident that I have done nothing wrong and that the Indianapolis Star article’s questioning of my integrity will prove to be unfounded.”

FBI investigators have interviewed Bischoff, according to the article, and subpoenaed grant and loan records from Lawrenceburg and Greendale. Bischoff is now a Greendale city council member. McMillin’s office was contacted by Ripley Publishing, but no response was given, other than what was in Indy Star that day, saying he was unaware of his firm’s involvement.


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