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Ridgecrest students take to the streets for fitness, fundraiser

Oct 31, 2017 10:31AM ● Published by Julie Slama

Ridgecrest kindergarteners race through the neighborhood as part of their fun run to help raise funds for their school. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

Asha Himmighoefer stood along the Ridgecrest neighborhood streets along with two of her younger children and a nephew, cheering on her kindergartner, Gabriel, in Ridgecrest Elementary’s annual fun run.

“He was making sure I had signed the (permission) paper and we put his shoes away so we knew where they were,” she said. “He wanted to make sure he was ready. He was really excited.”

Classmate Eli Jackson, who likes to ride his bike for exercise, was the second kindergartner to finish.

“I like running as fast as I can,” he said. 

While kindergartners ran one-half mile, the first-graders through fifth-graders completed one mile through the neighborhood, dotted with volunteers. Some parents, younger siblings, as well as staff and faculty joined students in the run.

Principal Julie Winfree cheered on the students.

“This brings us together as a community,” she said. “We have community members coming out to support them, parents come out to run and volunteer, and it brings energy to every kid. It’s a pretty easy fundraiser and we have so much fun with it.”

PTA President Marci Cardon said that as of the run on Oct. 6, about $13,500 had been counted. This year’s goal is $20,000, or $28 per student.

“We use the funds to benefit the students and our school programs,” she said.

Those include activities such as spelling bee, talent show, Chinese New Year celebration, chess champs, Ridgecrest Runner, Reflections, as well as classroom enhancements, teacher appreciation and classroom parties.

The PTA also distributed fun run T-shirts to every students and had fresh fruit at the finish line. At an assembly, the PTA will distribute vouchers to a trampoline park to the top five students who raise the most money. The grade that brings in the most money will get to participate in candy “raining” from the roof, she added.

Once the school reaches its goal, students will get to celebrate with a party, Cardon said.

Many of the students prepared for the fun run by participating in Ridgecrest Runners, a group that meets for 45 minutes in the morning to run one mile before school begins. By the end of the year, those student runners will have completed the equivalent of a marathon and will celebrate with medals and T-shirts.

“I love them being outside and active, so the fundraiser is part of my goals for the students,” Cardon said.

In September, they held a kick-off for the fun run, with music and dancing and “a lot of fun,” she said. Students learned how they could bring back contributions, including having friends and family donate online.

Before students ran, DJ Rob and Reggie the Tiger, the school mascot, warmed up students.

“The students have a lot of fun dancing, stretching and getting warmed up,” PTA secretary Idie Atencio said. 

While the course has changed throughout the years, many say this route is their favorite. 

“Everyone seems to like it being in front of the school,” Winfree said. “We have our Playworks coach, parents, staff, faculty, Watch DOGS dads and so many people running with the kids, enjoying this beautiful day. It’s a great way to build community and help our school at the same time.”

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