This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website and the Southern Chester County Weeklies‘ website.
KENNETT SQUARE – It may have been a hot day, but the young students at Unionville Elementary School didn’t seem to mind the heat as the whole student-body — almost 400 kids — paraded outside with their teachers to take part in the first ever Boosterthon Fun Run Sept. 11.
The program, which is a nine-day event, helps schools raise funds for education while, at the same time, inspiring the students to live healthy, character-filled lives.
Unionville is one of 1,300 schools across the United States to take part in the yearly program, whose theme this year is “Rock’n Town Live!”
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“Boosterthon exists to strengthen schools,” said Chris Carneal, the founder and president of the program, in a press release. “As a parent, I’ve seen how important community is in my children’s lives. That’s why we’re challenging students to build community in their schools and neighborhoods.”
Moving away from the typical sales of candy, pizza or Christmas wreaths, Boosterthon instead has the students gather pledges for the number of laps they will run at the end of the program, which had a maximum of 35 at Unionville.
“The kids have all gotten pledges for a number of laps so they can all walk or run,” said Unionville Principal Cliff Beaver. “The Boosterton team has been here for the last seven days doing character lessons with the kids during recess. It has been terrific. We’ve met our fundraising needs and goals with really great lessons every single day.
“The lessons were things like ‘Amplify Others’ and ‘Plug in to Serve’ because of that service component. I had a parent call me and say, ‘My child asked me today, Mom, what can I do for you?’ That’s their little tag line for the kids.”
As an enticement to the students to go out and get as many pledges as they could, the third grade teachers put an incentive out to their grade level that they would kiss a horse if they met a certain goal.
Beaver agreed to do the same if the entire student body reached its goal.
“Our financial goal was to be half of our annual PTO budget in this one fundraiser so that we wouldn’t have to do a whole bunch of little fundraisers,” Beaver said. “Parents are happy and the kids are very excited.”
Two tracks were set up outside of the school building, each about 1/16 of a mile. The red track was for students in kindergarten through second grade, while the blue one was for third through fifth.
But all of this wouldn’t have been possible if not for an e-mail sent to a member of the school’s PTO.
“We’ve been looking for different fundraisers for the school so we can start taking away those small fundraisers like wrapping paper and chocolates and try to find things that are more effective,” said Michelle Reichert, co-president of the Unionville PTO. “Last fall, one of the parents had e-mailed me this information (about Boosterthon).”
Reichert looked into it more and contacted people with the program and liked what she saw.
“It goes along with being healthy, exercising, raising money and involving the community and teachers,” she said. “Every day, they have a different assembly for the children and then it culminates in this Fun Run.”
Parents were invited to come to the last day’s Fun Run to cheer on their children as they took to the track with smiles on their faces.
At the end the day, the PTO was able to walk away with a rough estimate of $15,000 raised through the run, with more donations expected to come in.
The students did in fact reach the financial goals and on Sept. 12, CHAMP, a horse owned by Sierra Ellis, a student at the school, and her mother who teaches third grade there as well, was the recipient of some love.
Watching live via FaceTime in an assembly, the students watched third-grade teachers Mrs. Ellis, Mrs. Oldenski and Mrs. Rissmiller and their principal, Mr. Beaver, keep their part of the deal by kissing CHAMP outside.
The event was such a hit with everyone involved that the PTO is planning to keep Boosterthon as a yearly tradition at the school.
“We will probably do it again at the beginning of the year,” Reichert said. “It excites the kids. The teachers were very excited and the kids had something to look forward to.”