By David Lias
Elementary students from Austin and Jolley elementary schools did plenty of running around in the DakotaDome Tuesday and accomplished two things.
They got plenty of healthy exercise.
They also helped raise funds for the Vermillion PTA.
“We had originally planned on just doing a 5k event on the weekend, and instead decided to include all of the kids,” said Becca Jordre, wellness coordinator for the Vermillion PTA, “and the best way to include all of the kids was to do this during the school day, and to bring them over to the Dome.
“To have the Dome here is pretty awesome, and the kids feel like celebrities because they get to go into the Dome and run,” she said. “When we realized that we could use the Dome and have all the kids come here, it turned into a bigger event.”
The event was formally known as a Boosterthon Fun Run.
“Our goal was to come up with a good PTA fundraiser, and this turned into a good character, fitness and festive event for the kids,” Jordre said.
One of the Vermillion PTA’s objectives is to raise money to fund grants for local teachers and other projects that benefit local schools.
Each child was given a t-shirt to wear with a design on the back that included several small squares. At every 100 yards on the DakotaDome’s track, volunteers were posted to stop the kids momentarily so they could, using a marker, place a check in one of the boxes on each child’s shirt.
The amount of checked squares – in other words, the distances that the kids walked or ran that day in the Dome – determine the amount of money each student raised for the Vermillion PTA.
“They get a mark for every lap, and they asked for pledges from their family and friends, and some of them are getting pledges for each lap that they run. Each lap is about 100 meters for them, and that’s how this fundraiser works,” Jordre said. “Family and friends could give a flat donation or they could give a pledge per lap. We wanted to make sure that it wasn’t exclusive, so even if a kid didn’t raise money or get pledges, they are running and each one gets a shirt.”
Students from Jolley Elementary School took part in the Boosterthon Fun Run Tuesday morning. Younger students from Austin Elementary hit the DakotaDome track running early that afternoon.
“When we started talking about this, we wanted an event that would be really fun for our kids, that would emphasize fitness, and would be fundraiser for us,” said Sharla Krell, president of the Vermillion PTA. “We put those ideas together, and we created a committee of PTA parents.”
The committee involved local teachers who are also parents, and the school administrators.
“Some of our teachers are more involved than others, but they are all here today,” Krell said. “Through our committee, we started talking to people at the university, and we started talking to coaches. We talked to the coaches and asked them if we could have some help from some of their kids (athletes). Lucky Huber (USD head women’s track coach) had a bunch of his track kids here, and we have a bunch of football players here.”
Krell said many members of the USD volleyball team help the elementary students during the morning session of the fun run.
“USD athletes were well represented, and really helped us out,” she said. “We have PT and OT (physical therapy and occupational therapy) students as well as med students here, too. That was another big group that we solicited and asked to help us out and become involved with these kids.”
Krell was delighted to see many of the elementary students’ parents in the stands to watch them run Tuesday afternoon.
The funds raised by Tuesday’s fun run are earmarked for the PTA’s teacher grant program.
“Through the teacher grant program, teachers can request funds for anything that really doesn’t get covered by other educational funds,” Krell said. “We do a little bit of everything. We’ve purchased some stability and mobility balls for some classrooms because the teacher wanted to use them as part of classroom management, we’ve purchased book sets, DVD sets, and we’ve purchased food and terrariums and aquariums for some of the classroom pets.”
Previous grant purchases have also included math manipulative sets and incentive prizes for grade level behavioral programs.
“It’s the little things that would normally fall to teachers and aren’t covered financially in other places – they can request grant money from the PTA for that, and that’s primarily what all of the funds will go to.”