An Uplifting Lunch with Kathrine Switzer

Kathrine Switzer
photo by John Barker Images

by Bri Kilroy

When faced with difficulty, we use our personal tales of determination and resilience to overcome it and discover a solution. Kent County Girls on the Run (KCGOTR) instills that sensation in the lives of young girls with creative activities integrating running. On November 6, KCGOTR invites you to a remarkable event to be inspired, learn more and support the over 2,000 girls benefiting from this powerful program annually.

The Remarkable Speaker Series was developed to introduce an opportunity for attendees to hear extraordinary stories from chosen speakers and learn more about KCGOTR. The first event of the series kicks off with Marathon Woman Kathrine Switzer, who ran in the 1967 Boston Marathon when entrance was limited to men only.

Switzer’s book, Marathon Woman, will be available for purchase at the event.

“I’m excited,” Switzer expressed during an interview for last month’s WLM article, Marathon Woman Changes the Pace. “These girls are going to grow up with running as I did, a victory under their belt that no one take from them.”

This is the first of what Director at KCGOTR, Lori Burgess, hopes to be multiple events within the year as a way to “give back to the community.” What makes this inaugural occasion special is the support it receives for the Program Registration Assistance Fund, which helped 1,100 girls receive financial aid toward the program last year.

“We have never turned a girl away for financial reasons,” said Burgess, who organizes fundraisers like this one and last April’s LUNAFEST® to make the program available for all girls equally.

Burgess looks forward to Switzer sharing what running did for her and what it has done for women throughout history.

Switzer’s presence paired with a testimonial from a KCGOTR coach and a moving video presentation depicting individuals’ experience in the program makes for an uplifting lunch hour leaving guests with a new connection to KCGOTR and renewed vitality.

Arrive at New Vintage Place at 11:30 a.m. to network with KCGOTR coaches and others moved by the cause before settling at your table for a meal catered by West Michigan Caterers. Switzer shares her story at 12:20 p.m. followed by a coach testimonial and video screening.

Switzer’s book, Marathon Woman, will be available for purchase and guests have the opportunity to have it signed with the very initials that race officials overlooked when approving Switzer’s race registration in 1967.

Regardless of what genre our strength story falls in, the outcome of empowerment is universal. Join the community in celebration and support of joy, confidence, and health through movement among current and future generations to come.

  • What: KCGOTR Remarkable Speaker Series: Kathrine Switzer Luncheon
  • Where: New Vintage Place, 889 Broadway Avenue NW, Grand Rapids
  • When: November 6, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Tickets: Free. Donation encouraged. Reserve your spot online at or email


Bri Kilroy is a Grand Valley and AmeriCorps alumna who learned to type through vigorous Mavis Beacon trainings. She also passes as an artist, illustrator and author of this bio.


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