Girls on the Run ‘so much more than running’

By Tiffany Morgan, The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — Roughly 383 miles of driving from New York to Morgantown does not make running in a 5k something to look forward to, but for Jim Estruch, it was a promise he was determined to keep.

Yesterday “Girls on the Run” held their 5k run at 10 a.m. around the Student Rec Center on WVU campus.

“Girls on the Run” is an organization for local elementary schools such as Cheat Lake Elementary, Mylan Park Elementary and Mason Dixon Elementary. Their mission is to “inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.”

For Jayla Zambito, student at Cheat Lake Elementary, the meaning behind the run for her was to run with her grandfather, who traveled all the way from New York to make it possible. With it being her first year in Girls on the Run, Jayla was “excited” to run alongside him.

Estruch was asked to run the 5k, and promised to be there, before knowing that he would soon need open heart surgery. For him, it was a special moment to run with his granddaughter, but also a promise.

“I’m glad I was able to keep the promise,” Estruch said.

Estruch had a stroke in 2009, beat prostate cancer on July 30, 2017 and his most recent procedure needed was open heart surgery for a valve and aneurism, which took place March 25.

Estruch has always been very active, with helping host basketball camps at Syracuse, previous runs and “won’t even sit through a whole televisions show without doing sit-ups,” according to his daughter, Melissa Zambito.

“It’s amazing just to see how far he’s come,” Melissa said. “He’s determined and dedicated, that’s for sure.”

Melissa added that not only is she happy to see her father and daughter running together, but the Girls on the Run organization is more than a run.

Melissa said that “Girls on the Run” is a 12-week program and for 30 minutes each day, they run, but also use a workbook, where girls learn about good self-esteem and self-confidence.

“I think it’s a great event,” Melissa said. “It’s so much more than running.”

Estruch said his three daughters, son and wife “spoil” him but he is grateful to have each one of them, especially his wife.

“They do everything for me – words,” Estruch said. “My wife is my nurse, secretary and best friend.”

The incision for Estruch’s open heart surgery, rather than opening the entire chest, took half of the recovery time due to a smaller incision made between the first and second rib. During the course of each procedure, Estruch made the best of his blessings to get through.

“I’ve been blessed,”

Estruch said. “That sounds bad, but when life serves you lemons you make lemonade.”

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