Walking for a cause

Published 9:38 am Thursday, October 20, 2011

Students from Jessica Rassler’s first-grade start walking during the walk-a-thon Wednesday at Halverson Elementary School. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

A good idea just kept growing and growing, and now Halverson Elementary School students have raised more than $10,000 to fund field trips and other school events.

Tired of competing against all the other students and groups who sell food products, candles or gift wrap, among other items, Sarah Veldman, president-elect of Halverson’s parent-teacher group SPIRIT, copied an idea Lakeview Elementary had to hold a walk-a-thon to raise money.

Students from Robyn Bordewick’s second-grade class participate in the walk-a-thon Wednesday at Halverson Elementary School.

“This year we were looking for a way to raise money without selling expensive food or gift items,” Veldman said. “We heard about the walk-a-thon that Lakeview did and decided that was a great option.”

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Cathy Rofshus, past president of SPIRIT, was taking photos of all the kids and their teachers before they went walking Wednesday morning. She said 10 businesses in the community sponsored a classroom for $100, and kids brought in pledges to help raise money. Not only were 50 parents and grandparents at the event, almost all of the kids were able to be involved. In past years less than a quarter of students sold fundraising products.

“Every club is trying to sell that stuff,” Rofshus said. “The kids just really blew us away.”

Rofshus said with the money that was raised the students won’t have to do any more fundraisers for the year for field trips and events. Each grade does a couple trips a year to places like the Minnesota Zoo or do events like kayaking and rock-wall climbing at Brookside Education Center.

Principal Matt Esterby said he was hoping to raise about $3,500 and with the total more than $10,000 he was completely surprised by the students and parents who support the school.

“We’re really going to be able to look at this and brainstorm some ideas that people had never even thought of by having that kind of money,” Esterby said.

Esterby walked with students and parents early in the morning to check the weather but said the students were excited to celebrate the fundraising with a four-mile walk and that they can’t wait to do the fundraiser again next year.

Jessica Rassler, a first-grade teacher at Halverson Elementary School, leads her students during the walk-a-thon Wednesday morning. The event raised more than $10,000 for school activities and field trips.

An estimated 70 percent of students were able to participate in the fundraising, with some donating just 25 cents. In previous years while working with fundraising companies only about a quarter of students participated, and with the walk-a-thon every student was able to celebrate and walk together regardless of whether they raised any funds.

While the students were celebrating the money they raised, they were also getting to do a healthy activity. Esterby said the celebration was positive because students were active and ate a healthy snack during the walk.

“Today was great because we were taking steps to close the nutrition gap in our youth,” Esterby said.

The original route for the walk-a-thon was from Halverson to Frank Hall Park and some classes would continue on to the Blazing Star Trail before turning around and walking back to the school. Some classes cut the route short because of cold weather and had students walk laps in the parking lot.

Jessica Rassler’s first-grade class was one of the first ones to leave the school Wednesday morning around 9:30 a.m. Her class was sponsored by Ernie’s Canvas Products and was carrying a sign displaying the name.

“We’ve always done fundraising,” Rassler said. “This way the school gets 100 percent of the profits.”