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Sandy Journal

Schools overcome challenges with school fundraiser runs, creating lasting memories

Oct 21, 2019 04:17PM ● By Julie Slama

Willow Canyon students warm up with the help of a PTA volunteer and their mascot before their one-mile run. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Is it going to downpour? Should it be delayed or postponed? Those were the questions surrounding Park Lane Elementary PTA President Shannon Melchior as they watched a weather app during the week. Early on the fun run morning, there were dark clouds and early morning rain and she questioned the decision to run, “rain or shine.” 

At Willow Canyon Elementary, after warming up with three fitness routines and their wildcat mascot, kids dashed from the playground running past the start, where Sandy Police and vintage car escorts awaited the beginning of the race.

However, both fun runs were met with smiles as students enjoyed getting outside, running together to bring in dollars for their school fundraisers.

“It’s fun,” said sixth-grader Kathryn Green about participating in her third Willow Canyon fun run. 

She was joined by her mother, Hannah Stauber, and classmate Natalie Allen, who was running in her fifth school fun run.

“Best thing is running with my best friend,” Natalie said, adding that running increases her energy.

Stauber, who runs marathons, said she appreciates the fun run.

“It’s nice to see them getting excited about physical activity,” she said.

Parent Patrick Rennie, who was there to cheer on his second-grade son Ronan, agrees.

“I like that it gets our students out exercising and that they’re doing it together as a group instead of selling door-to-door,” he said. “We used to do a lot more sports and physical activity in schools, but we’ve moved away from it and now we’re seeing obesity and health issues. We need to make sure our kids are being active.”

Jenni Nielsen, who oversaw the one-mile fun run, also appreciates the kids being more fit.

“The fun run has been a great way for us to promote healthy activity with our community,” she said. “Our families have really taken to the fun run as a great opportunity to spend time as a family, support the community and have fun while exercising.”

The families weren’t the only ones involved. Sports car drivers came to help police escort the fun run in the neighborhood. 

Mustang GT350 owner David Christensen was ready after his daughter and teacher Amy Hilton asked for his help.

“I’m retired, so I said I can do it,” he said before balloons were added to his 1966 decommissioned race car.

Others contributed, and local businesses donated activities to be used as incentives for students’ fundraising. In addition, students who brought in donations during the two-week period also could be eligible for other incentives, from Willow Canyon apparel to a pizza party with the principal, Nielsen said.

Willow Canyons’ fundraising goal was set upward to $15,000, Nielsen said. Funds will be earmarked for field trips, class parties, assemblies, Red and White Ribbon weeks, literacy week, arts festival, science fair, Reflections and other activities.

“The Willow Canyon Fun Run is a fabulous way to bring the community together to support our local kids,” Nielsen said.

Melchior also agrees that running together is a great way to bring together her community, as students ran through the neighborhood, avoiding puddles from the earlier rain. Only kindergartners were channeled into the gym to run.

“We call it a fun run miracle,” she said. “We were supposed to run at 10 and the weather app kept showing conditions changing until finally, we saw it was supposed to be clear between 9:45 and 10:15, so the police officer closed off the road so we could cone off the puddles and start.”

Joining Park Lane students was the Jordan High cross-country team, who helped with warm-ups and stretching before running together.

“They were so great, running along with the students, encouraging them,” Melchior said.

Park Lane principal, Justin Jeffery, who promised students if they raised $10,000 he would dye his hair, ran alongside them, sporting a rainbow hairdo.

This was the second year that Park Lane students took to the neighborhood for their run; previously it was held on their school grounds.

“We had a lot of people cheering the students on with signs and music. Our school is the hub of our community and people are there, supporting the kids,” Melchior said.

Many area businesses also donated items for student prize incentives, from ultraviolet slime to airpods, from a Beta fish to iTunes gift card, from a signed Jazz ball to Hale Theatre tickets. However, the biggest prize was 20 Disney park hopper passes that were split among the top four students who brought in the most donations for the school, Melchior said.

“It’s just amazing how much support we have in our community,” she said, pointing out those top money-earners were around $500 each.

The funds will support PTA programs as well as possibly be set aside for a digital marquee sign or to create a space lab within the school.

“We’ll let the community decide,” Melchior said. “We want to help kids engage and connect the dots between life and academics and engaging in their school activities.”

While funds toward their $15,000 goal were still be counted as of press deadline, a school-wide reward of an outdoor movie party was being planned — weather-permitting, Melchior added with a laugh.