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  Better than Candy  
  Local private schools sell fitness rather than candy to help fundraise through Boosterthon.

By Nancy N. Glick
Photo courtesy of The First Academy
  Students at The First Academy get excited about exercising thanks to a Boosterthon Fun Run.  

Schools can say goodbye to the traditional fundraisers like candy, popcorn and magazine sales. Boosterthon’s hassle-free program encourages students to live healthy, active lifestyles and make positive choices. Boosterthon Fun Run came to Florida in 2008 and has served 13,800 students.

Prior to the run, an enthusiastic pep rally is held motivating and encouraging students to help their school. Students are invited to gather tax-deductible pledges for each lap they run during the two-week session, however the program is designed to include all students regardless of financial participation.

Students call their sponsors after they have completed the run and share with them the number of laps they ran. The school receives 52 percent of the gross given to classrooms for curriculum needs. Boosterthon receives 48 percent, which mainly pays for all provisions and support they give for the fundraising event. Also, some of that money they give back to the school for fitness programs. Candy, popcorn, and magazine fundraising programs receive similar proceeds.

To ease the hassle for parents, school administrators and parent-teacher groups, Boosterthon covers all administrative costs for such items as T-shirts, background music during the run, promotional kits, water stations, student awards, set-up and clean-up and online pledge system and insurance.

“Figures tally up to show that in 2009, schools participating ran 7.1 million laps, which registers at 443,000 miles. That’s more than the 238,000 miles from the Earth to the moon,” says Brittany Thoms, Booster representative.

“The team members are young adult men with so much energy and contagious enthusiasm you wonder where it comes from,” says Chris Wilson, president of the Parent Teacher Association for Woodlands Elementary School in Longwood. “Not only do they run with the children, they are role models and visit each class daily, motivating them, teaching them values and reasons to be leaders. The kids’ faces light up. The program truly brings the whole school together working as a team,” she says.

Her two children, 6-year-old Sawyer and 9-year-old Rayne, participated this year. They both won prizes.

“It is so much fun being able to run around in different ways,” Rayne says. “And I liked getting pledges. I got to meet and talk to neighbors and friends.”

According to Thoms, Booster gives out fitness rewards instead of giving out candy prizes. For 2010-2011, Booster had added backpacks with fitness headbands, wristbands and shoelaces in a gym bag. Prizes are awarded based on pledges per lap that students receive and the number of laps completed. Sometimes, Booster team members will volunteer to host end-of-school, school bash or graduation parties for the students.

Windermere residents and The First Academy students Katelyn and Kendall Jones, have been participating in the Fun Run for two years. As president of the Parent Teacher Fellowship for TFA, their mother Katie says the school used to have fundraisers such as selling gift-wrap and cookies, but now the Boosterthon is the school’s only school-wide fundraiser. It involves a minimum amount of effort for a maximum return.

“What makes the run fun for the children is letting them run various ways—like running through tunnels, skipping backwards or with a swimming stroke,” Katie Jones says. “The team members are so compassionate. One handicapped child was running with difficulty, so a member of the team put her on his back and ran with her.”

Boosterthon is more than a fundraiser. It is an experience that students, parents and staff rave about for its principles of fitness, education and character. For information, go to http://www.funrun.com/ or call 678.920.2650 if interested in the Boosterthon serving your school.
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