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The City Journals

South Jordan, Elk Meadows Elementary Students Lace Up Shoes to Raise Fitness, Funds

Oct 04, 2016 04:59PM ● By Julie Slama

On your mark, get set, go! On Sept. 16, Elk Meadows students participate in the school’s third annual jog-a-thon to help raise funds for PTA activities. (Julie Slama/My City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

South Jordan fourth-grader Aleyah Sandos is a gymnast, but on Sept. 13, she traded in her leotard for tennis shoes as she ran around the school field for the school’s annual jog-a-thon fundraiser.

“I like running with my friends, and we’ve been running every day as a class in the morning (to prepare for the jog-a-thon),” Aleyah said.  

Even though she passed her principal, Ken Westwood, who figured he ran a 10k as he was jogging with each grade, Aleyah added, “The last lap was hard to go all the way around.”

Her mother, Heather, was there cheering her on.

“She loves this school,” she said. “She went with two friends door-to-door to raise about $60 each. The kids are enthusiastic about the jog-a-thon and know it helps raise money for programs they like.”

For Aleyah, it is Reflections, which she had just submitted a metal art entry of a butterfly.

At South Jordan Elementary, the jog-a-thon also helps with Meet the Masters art program, Leader in Me, safety patrol, field trips, ribbon weeks, school play, teacher appreciation, sixth-grade celebration and other PTA activities, said Rachelle Middleton, who started the school’s jog-a-thon six years ago and was helping with it this year.

“We started right after the district split (forming Jordan and Canyons school districts), and I had helped with Crescent Elementary,” Middleton said. “I don’t like door-to-door sales and wanted to help get the kids outside and active.”

That first year, the run was held on a Saturday and the school made $5,900. The next year, the jog-a-thon made $40,000, and it has successfully made that or more every year, Middleton said.

“Our community bought into it, realizing that all the money goes back to the students and teachers, and we don’t have to have any other fundraiser to help our school. We have a very supportive community, and lot of families and people have volunteered to help,” she said, estimating that about 50 people help each day of the event in addition to the committee of 10 volunteers. The second run for the other two tracks is scheduled for Oct. 4.

In addition to funding PTA events, the school also has purchased outdoor recreational equipment, such as soccer goals and backstops, as well as updated technology devices for the students.

At both elementaries, students have a set time to run and volunteers mark how many laps around the school field they run. At South Jordan, awards are given for those students who complete the most laps as well the top students who bring in the most funds. There also are parties for top fundraising classes. 

“There’s a drawing for prizes from basketballs and footballs to kayaks,” Middleton said. “For the top seven students, they can ride in a limo to have lunch with the principal at Olive Garden.” 

Similar to South Jordan, some of Elk Meadows’ fundraising students will ride in a Hummer limo with their principal, Aaron Ichimura, to eat lunch at Texas Roadhouse.  

Elk Meadows prizes will include water bottles and backpacks, which will be awarded to the boy and girl in each class who ran the most. Each student also received a school T-shirt, said jog-a-thon coordinator Alisa Jones.

“We try to keep the overhead to under 10 percent so the money we raise can be used for programs that will benefit all students,” Jones said.

Elk Meadows already had two tracks of the year-round 878 students participate on Aug. 26, and together with sponsorships, the school was “well over half way” to reaching its goal of $18,000, PTA President Tricia Christensen said.

The last two tracks ran on Sept. 16 as Ichimura gave the student runners high-fives and misted them with a squirt bottle.

Fifth-grader Parker Heath was one of those runners.

“I got to go outside and get some good exercise as I ran for 15 minutes,” he said.

Classmate Dallin Griesemer said the day before the jog-a-thon, he ran around the field three times.

“Today I ran seven [laps around the field], one less than one mile,” he said. “I like how we could run all we wanted and get fit.” 

Fifth-grader Aspen Lindorff said she raised $45 by knocking on her neighbors’ doors to help raise money for the school.

“It helps with our school fields trips,” she said. “Next week, we’re going to the zoo and later this year, biz town. I can’t wait.”

After the run, however, Aspen’s favorite part was “the snow cones. They cool us down and they’re delicious.”