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Girls on the Run 11/11/17 (1)

Balloons are launched in honor of Norah Hadley during the opening ceremonies of Girls on the Run 5K event at the Mattoon Area Family YMCA in Mattoon on Saturday.


MATTOON -- They called her "Non-stop Norah."

That was the name the folks with the Girls on the Run program gave to Norah Hadley, a 13-year-old Charleston girl whose impact on the program didn't stop with her death last month.

"Norah was a champion for Girls on the Run since our beginning," program Director Sarah Dowell said Saturday, her voice breaking as she spoke during the Girls on the Run season-ending 5K run.

Before the more than 180 youngsters began their run Saturday morning, Dowell announced that Norah's family decided they wanted her memorial donations to go to the Girls on the Run program.

What that meant was a $15,000 contribution for scholarships to help participant take part in the 10-week program that teaches third-eighth graders skills for healthy lifestyles.

Norah's mother, Christy Kilgore, joined Dowell as she made the announcement. Following that, the runners released dozens of balloons, all in Norah's favorite color of teal.

"Send those off for Non-stop Norah," Dowell said, also noting that Norah created the artwork that was featured on the runners' race bibs.

Dowell also said Norah was named the winner of the program's annual Wonder Girl award, which goes to a girl who "fully embraces" the Girls on the Run values and mission.

She was it "clear that Norah has done so" by taking part as a participant, volunteer and in other roles with the program.

Norah died unexpectedly on Oct. 21 after suffering what her family has described as an apparent brain affliction.

Saturday's run began and finished outside the Mattoon Family YMCA, which sponsors the program.

Dowell said 157 girls took part in the race and were joined by 26 members of Stride, the version of the program for boys in third-fifth grade. Many were taking part in their first 5K, she added.

About 300 volunteers, most of them Eastern Illinois University students, helped with Saturday's event, Dowell also said.


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