GREENCASTLE, Pa. — Veteran “racer” Patrick O’Brien got to go to the capitol building in Harrisburg on his birthday last year. That’s why the Greencastle-Antrim fifth-grader was eager to get around the track on Kaley Field to support the 2018 Race for Education on Friday.
With five races under his belt, Patrick knows that field trips are one of beneficiaries of the fundraiser conducted by the PTO of the primary and elementary schools. Seven years ago, the PTO went from multiple fundraisers to a single-event in which family and friends of students make direct donations in support of field trips, assemblies, classroom technology and other extra equipment or events.
As has been the case the previous six years, there was music and entertainment by the teachers. Hundreds of supporters lined the fence around the track to cheer on the students.
Before the 1,400 students from the two schools even got to the track Friday morning, more than $90,000 had been donated from solicitation letters sent to addresses provided by students. That was $5,000 more than the goal, according to Holly Kendall, an event chair.
“Last year, we raised $106,000, so we’re hoping to reach that again this year,” Kendall said.
Fifth-grader Noah Parks is grateful for the support. “(The donors) care about you and your education, so you can learn and keep on growing,” he said.
Getting to be outside, run on the track and see all of his friends is an extra bonus. “We’ll be able to do more fun things in class,” Noah said.
Fun was the theme for Kinzee Hudson and Callie Izer, cousins in fifth-grade. “It’s so much fun and you get to run around for your school,” said Kinzee said.
Callie added, “We do this so we can have a lot of fun with everything we do in school.”
Volunteer Deb Long helped with the event Friday even though her children have moved to the secondary section of campus.
“We have lots of neighbor children who are in the primary and elementary buildings and it’s so much fun to see them and all the students and be a part of it,” she said. “It’s enjoyable being back and helping. It’s a community thing and it’s nice.”
Long said “race” day is an important part of the fundraiser.
“The students feel a part of it when they are here,” Long said. “They never get to actually see their folder with all the labels going out and then getting money back.
“So today when they’re running the track, and they have their family and friends as cheerleaders along the side, it’s really fun for them. That’s when they begin to realize that it’s bigger than just them alone handing in labels and doing their individual part.”
For Patrick, a love of running was a bonus for his time on the track Friday, as well as the fun and games. “We just saw the the teachers chucking water balloons at each other,” he said with a giggle.