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WEST GOSHEN — The weather may have been a bit windy, but it couldn’t have been a more perfect day for Fern Hill Elementary’s Race for the Cure Friday.
In what has become an annual tradition, dating back to more than 15 years ago, Fern Hill has held the race to raise money for the Susan G. Komen organization.
“It started out small, then became all 10 elementary schools doing it,” said Shawn Dzielawa, a fifth-grade teacher at Fern Hill and one of the race’s organizers. “This is our biggest year — it’s huge.”
Since preparations began between Dzielawa and Christine Paolucci, a first-grade teacher at Fern Hill, in March, they decided on changing some things up this year.
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“Last year, we just went out and walked and raised money a different way,” Paolucci said. “This year, we decided to dedication balloons. Each child could dedicate a balloon with a card on it to say who they’re doing it in honor of. They’ve just been raising money like crazy.”
Not only that, but instead of just taking all the children out to walk or run, they instead broke the day down into grade levels.
For about 45 minutes, each grade came out and spent time going around the marked out quarter-mile trail in the playground area of the school.
“They had cards and got to count how many miles,” Paolucci said. “It was fun for them to race for the cure.”
Teachers and parent volunteers were helping throughout the day by DJing and marking the cards with each lap the students did.
The balloons were a big hit with the students. Though they had to be secured on the ground due to the wind, it still didn’t stop all those at the school from appreciating the magnitude of the dedications.
“Our total for balloons this year was 265,” Dzielawa said. “We kept adding more throughout the day. We have a small elementary school and half of the population of the school have a balloon.”
Fern Hill has always done well raising money through the race, but nothing came close to this year.
“In past years, the closest we had gotten was $2,600,” Dzielawa said. “We more than doubled it today. It was amazing.”
By the end of the day, Fern Hill had raised $5,613.
And they aren’t even done yet as they are still collecting money until May 29.
The best part for Dzielawa and Paolucci is seeing the children taking part not just for the fun, but to be a part of the cause.
“It’s great the kids know why we’re doing it,” Paolucci said. “We’re doing it to help find the cure.”
It can, at times, even get emotional for the organizers, the teachers and the parents who watch throughout the day.
“It really does get emotional when you see the children understanding that they’re doing something to help somebody else and they’re realizing there is a bigger world out there than just their world that they’re in,” Dzielawa said.