nominated by Girls on the Run Franklin Co.
By: Amy Huwell
While on vacation in 2014, something caught Ashley Weaver’s eye and tugged at her heart — a young girl in a t-shirt that proudly proclaimed Girls on the Run. I don’t usually go up to random young girls,” Ashley laughs, “but I went over to her and asked about it. A light went on in her eyes as she talked about her experiences, about building positive relationships with other girls. It was really cool to hear this, and I thought, ‘I am sold! Let’s do it’!”
Ashley did not make this decision on a whim. An only child, she was passionate about all she took on and was never confined by the stereotypical idea of what a girl — or a woman — should be. As a business leader for American Electric Power, she is used to holding her own in a generally male-dominated field, but her selflessness and compassion for others are as maternal as they come. Serendipitously, Ashley had been involved in various volunteer positions through AEP, which encourages opportunities for professional development and outreach. Through her participation in Leadership Columbus in 2012, she became aware of Girls on the Run (GOTR), a program that focuses on issues facing young girls and helps them build self-confidence through running. “When I heard about it, I thought it sounded truly amazing. This organization really attracted my interest.”
As so often happens, life can sidetrack us. Two years passed before the Fates sent her a reminder in the form of an email from a fellow Leadership Columbus participant, who was soliciting Board Members for GOTR. “It was around this time that I had read a study about self-esteem in girls, and how the most pivotal age is 8. My daughters were around that age. To be a part of a program that helps prepare them to handle life situations in a positive way seemed incredible.”
Thinking it over, Ashley and her family left for vacation. And it was there that destiny appeared in the form of that young girl, whose enthusiasm and genuine pride in herself were the final nudge Ashley needed. The clock turned back, and she saw herself — what could GOTR have done for her, had it been around? Time sped forward — what could it do for her own daughters?
“The truth is, from the outside, girls may seem confident and comfortable in their own skin, but typically this is not the case. Girls need to feel confident in celebrating themselves; they need to learn to embrace the successes of their peers so as they get older, they can support each other as women.”
Ashley, currently the Vice-Chair of GOTR, explains, “Our mission is to serve every girl, and we mean it literally.” GOTR has sites supporting behavioral issues and the hearing impaired, and will soon add one for the vision impaired. “If we can provide opportunities for all girls and arm them with what they need to deal with the world in a positive way — amazing. If we can help even one girl avoid one bad choice, it is all worth it.”
Author Simon Van Booy wrote, “Coincidences mean you’re on the right path.” How fortunate that Ashley Weaver embraced the moments of chance. In doing so, she is creating and inspiring new paths upon which all girls can run.
If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
“To go back to the basics in life, and that people would focus on ‘we’ instead of ‘me’.”
What women’s cause is closest to your heart?
“Ovarian cancer. By the time my mother was actually tested for it, it was too late.”
What is the most important piece of advice you would share with a young woman growing up today?
“Dream to be different, and always follow your passion.”
What women influenced you the most either past or present?
“My mother. She has always been my best friend. She supported every dream I had and continues to do the same for my girls. I couldn’t ask for more.”
What’s your favorite quote?
“Don’t let perfection get in the way of excellence!”
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