Meet Volunteer Coach Tanya of Girls on the Run

Athleta and Girls on the Run (GOTR) go way back. Why? Because GOTR embodies all things #PowerofShe. Healthy competition and an uplifting attitude. Sisterhood and reaching our limitless potential. In celebration of our powerful partnership, we’re shining a spotlight on a few GOTR coaches who go the extra mile for girls.

First up… Coach Tanya (The Blade Runner)!

As a result of radiation from Chernobyl, Tatsiana Khvitsko was born without fully developed legs. Now, as a double blade runner, Coach Tanya inspires girls to boldly pursue their dreams as a coach for Girls on the Run of Greater Kansas City.

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Q: What was it like receiving your blades and running for the first time?

A: I was so happy to run for the first time in my life! Being an amputee from birth isn’t such a bad thing because I don’t get phantom pain. However, it also means that I don’t get to do certain things because I do not have complete limbs. Running is something I was never capable of doing. I remember that when I ran for the first time, I was running so fast that I couldn’t stop myself and somebody had to catch me! I felt like I was flying. I know it’s cheesy but it’s true, and this feeling of flying… I wanted to feel it over and over! Thanks to a local Kansas City company called Decker O&P, I was given another blade for my left leg so I am officially a double blade runner! Thanks to POA — the company in Florida that gave me a chance to run for the first time — and to Decker O&P, I am becoming a stronger and a faster runner.

Q: Why did you want to become a runner?

A: I wouldn’t say I wanted to become a runner, it just happened and I am so grateful for it! Because of running, I’ve made so many great connections and it’s made me realize that my running isn’t just for me – I can help so many others!

Q: What motivates you to keep going?

A: First and foremost, I love the feeling during and after the run! I like to be healthy and running helps me stay in shape. I also feel like people believe in me so much that I don’t want to disappoint them and I want to keep getting faster and stronger and simply be better. Finally, I believe I am a positive influence and hopefully I bring a little motivation for those who in need it or just need a little push. My motivation to keep going is mostly others with their love and support and encouragement!

Q: Why did you decide to coach for Girls on the Run?

A: First, I wanted to do some volunteering and Girls on the Run seemed like a wonderful opportunity because it involves running. As I started coaching, I realized that it isn’t just about me doing good for others, it’s about teaching these young women to recognize their beauty and strength while incorporating self-esteem through running. I felt like it was a perfect fit for me because being an amputee, I had to work so hard to find beauty in my disability and my athletic ability.

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“I wanted to show those young girls that we are all beautiful, strong and capable of so much no matter how we look or how we do it. I don’t necessarily see myself as a coach, I see myself as their running friend and their mentor!”

Q: What’s your favorite part about coaching for Girls on the Run?

A: My favorite part of GOTR is actually doing the final 5K. I love seeing the girls’ running improvements and their accomplishments! Seeing a 10-year-old finish it with a smile on her face is completely worth it!

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At her first GOTR 5k, Tanya remembers a few of the girls questioning whether or not she’d be able to keep up. She challenged them to run anyway, and she remembers how shocked they were at her speed. Kudos to Tanya for showing girls how to reach for their limitless potential!

Ready to challenge yourself and uplift girls around you? Get connected with Girls on the Run, and learn more about volunteer opportunities here.

This post originally appeared on the GOTR blog Remarkable!

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