Ormond Beach girl wins award for inspiring team
News-Journal - 7/17/2019
Everyone agrees: You can't know Shoshana Ravede and not love her.
The 13-year-old from Ormond Beach is nonverbal but has an infectious smile. And she has developmental delays that meant she had trouble walking on her own just a few years ago, but she's overflowing with a well developed sense of compassion.
So it was no surprise that when she joined the Girls on the Run team at Pathways Elementary two years ago, a club meant to empower young girls, she had a positive effect on the whole team.
"She brought out the best in everybody, is how I can really sum it up," said Melody Grunder, one of the team's coaches.
Before Shoshana joined, there was some drama and distraction among the third- through eighth-grade girls in the empowerment group. They were supposed to be learning to be the best they could be -- and Shoshana helped them reach their potential.
"It's just made the team a kinder group of girls," said Ashley Novak, the Girls on the Run director for Volusia County.
For her ability to bring out the best in others, Shoshana was one of seven recipients of an international Live Justice Award this year. She traveled to Los Angeles in June to accept the award for being an inspiration to other girls.
"I nominated her because she really tapped into her star power and she embraces who she is," Novak said. "She's authentically herself, even though she navigates life a lot differently than her peers do."
Joining the team helped Shoshana too. Before Girls on the Run, she wasn't really a strong walker, let alone able to finish a 5K (which the team does every season).
She was diagnosed as a young child with chromosome 16 deletion, a syndrome that gave her developmental issues like low muscle tone. Shoshana used to be in a walker and had braces on her legs when she joined the team.
What the family expected to be a challenge ended up being an amazing experience for the whole community. The coaches and Shoshana's family were struck by how easily everything fell into place.
They recall vividly the end of Shoshana's first 5K: All the other girls had finished as she kept on around the course. But one by one her teammates ran back, grabbed her hand and finished the race with her.
"Shoshana brings out the best in people," said her father, Jim Ravede. "She's just a beautiful little girl. Her smile radiates. There's something about her. She has a unique ability to find people who are sincere, we call it a pure heart."
Now Shoshana no longer needs her leg braces, and in her third 5K she beat some other girls on the team. As she heads to Hinson Middle School in August, her dad hopes she'll be able to join the cross country team.
"I've never known Shoshana to say no to anything," Jim Ravede said. "Except bed time."
Girls on the Run of Volusia has reached more than 4,000 girls since its inception in 2005, including more than 300 in the past academic year. Learn more about the group and how to get involved at gotrvolusia.org.
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