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Runners Raise $13,500 for Takoma Park Schools

Story by Taashi Rowe
Published 4/25/12

Sligo Adventist School's third-grader Isabella Fuentes, placed first in her grade during the first “5K Race/Fun Run for Christian Education” in Takoma Park, Md.

“I never ran this far before,” said Keiffer Edwards, a fourth-grader at Sligo Adventist School (SAS) in Takoma Park, Md., after participating in a 3.1-mile fun run. Why did he run? “I wanted my mom to be happy,” he said, holding up a first-place trophy.

There was another reason Edwards participated in Sunday’s “5K Race/Fun Run for Christian Education.” This inaugural fundraising race, which took place at Sligo Creek Parkway, brought in $13,500 for student scholarships at Sligo Adventist School and John Nevins Andrews School (JNA), also located in Takoma Park.

The idea to get parents, students and teachers involved in a healthy, fun activity as a fundraiser was the brainchild of Alvin Fuentes, an assistant professor of health, physical education and wellness at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park. Fuentes, also an SAS parent, had been involved in a similar program at a school in Florida, and wanted to replicate it here. “Over the 12 years of that program, we helped over 300 families and raised over $200,000,” he said.

That was reason enough for Larry Rich, SAS principal, to start organizing the run. “We started planning in October, and created awards for children who raised the most money,” he said. “It really took a village to pull it together.”

Cavel Melbourne, JNA principal, said she recognizes that “cost is definitely a barrier for some parents wanting to send their kids to [Seventh-day] Adventist schools. So as educators, we need to do whatever we can to help our families.” She added that this was also the perfect opportunity to partner with SAS.

The kids seemed to have a ball. Although they didn’t have to pay to run, they were tasked with getting their friends and family to donate at least $20. And when it came to the day of the race, there were awards for both genders from preschool to the eighth-grade and, of course, for adult participants.

“It was tiring but exciting,” said Carina Ming, a JNA fourth-grader who ran with her brother, Cameron, a third-grader. When asked why she participated, she said, “I wanted to help other kids who are not as fortunate as me to be in a Christian school.”

Heather Lunsford, the Home and School leader at SAS and mother of two SAS students, was most inspired by how many people participated. “It just shows how excited people are for the cause of Christian education,” she said. “I’m so glad my children get to come to such a great, uplifting and encouraging school.”

Despite the light rain, Fuentes estimates that more than 100 participated in the race.