Putting the Fun in Fundraiser with
Spicewood Elementary, an elementary school located in Austin, TX, recently came together with their community to create something amazing to help both the school and their students. With support from the Marathon Kids program, the Spicewood physical education department (including Coaches Jaime Pierce & Susan Marshall) and school PTA (including Monica Alas) launched a school fundraiser to help raise money for important school services and activities.
The fundraiser raised money by directly linking donations to each mile a student ran throughout the school year, tracked by the Marathon Kids program. The running goal for each student at Spicewood Elementary for the year was to run an entire marathon (26.2 miles) and parents and community members were suggested to donate at least $1 for each mile their student ran.
Spicewood Elementary is nestled in a northern Austin neighborhood and is part of the Round Rock Independent School District. The community as a whole is very active and it isn’t uncommon to find families walking and running all throughout the connected neighborhoods. With the school being located near a golf course and tennis courts, the children of the neighborhood often see positive, healthy examples of physical activity and in turn are motivated to pursue healthy lives themselves.
Three very important members within the community that have done tremendous work to ensure the students and community are striving for healthier lives include PTA volunteer Monica Alas and Physical Education and Wellness teachers Jaime Pierce and Susan Marshall.
The Motivators at Spicewood
For Monica Alas, physical health has always been a crucial part of her life and she ensures it is a priority in her household. “Moving your body every day is a priority in our household because we know it helps not only our physical health, but our mood, brain power and overall self confidence.” Monica Alas has been a long distance runner since high school and completed her first marathon before graduating college. Running is something she is truly passionate about and is something she shares with her family and kids. Her kids are always there to support their mom in her physical activity goals any way they can and look to her as an inspiration for what they can achieve. Monica hopes to motivate her community to embrace physical activity and running and the fundraiser using Marathon Kids technology was a perfect way to accomplish that.
Coaches Pierce and Marshall work directly with the students of Spicewood Elementary every day to encourage and teach a healthier, more active lifestyle. Both teachers have been passionate about physical fitness ever since they were kids, participating in team sports and other athletics throughout school. Additionally, both teachers at early ages experienced the multitude of benefits that come from consistent physical activity including an overall healthier life, reduced stress, and mental balance.
Setting the Fundraiser into Motion
Similar to many other schools and organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted Spicewood Elementary, stretching faculty and resources thin. After brainstorming ways to help, the school PTA decided that blending student physical activity with fundraising was the perfect way to raise money for the school while providing students with the opportunity to improve their physical health and motivation to run.
“Our goal with bringing Marathon Kids to Spicewood Elementary was getting our kids excited about moving their bodies and leveraging that into an easy-to-give fundraiser. We encouraged all parents to donate $26 to Spicewood - $1 for each mile their child was running. Our school goal was to RUN 15,000 miles and parents were challenged to raise $15,000 to match those miles.”
Ultimately, Spicewood Elementary was able to raise nearly $13,000 for their school and help fund projects like campus improvements benefiting all students, enrichment training for teachers, and field trips. Marathon Kids made it easier than ever for Coaches Pierce and Marshall and additional volunteers to track the students' laps as they ran towards their goal.
“Kudos to the Marathon Kids organization and team for creating such a stream-lined program that parent volunteers were able to rebuild the program without needing to pull too much time from our coach's and teacher's schedules.”
The Marathon Kids Kick Off Event
The official start to the students’ tracked running started with a big kick off event which featured speakers, a dancing warm up session, and of course lots of running!
The Marathon Kids Kick Off was Spicewood’s first big event back after 2 years of limited school activities and the community showed up in a big way! “Parents and families showed up ready with signs and cowbells to cheer kids on as they ran laps around our school track. There was so much excitement and huge smiles all around.”
The students continued their tracked running throughout the year during PE where students would run for 30 minutes once a week for 10 weeks. To accurately track each student’s progress, QR codes were taped to the back of student ID cards that were scanned at iPad stations using the Marathon Kids software. “Using the QR codes helped PTA Organization Leaders and the PE team to keep track of mileage to help the students reach their goals and rewards.”
Motivating Kids to Run
As most teachers can attest, it can be difficult to motivate students to put down their phones and pick up their running shoes and head outside. However, Coaches Pierce and Marshall were able to motivate their students through the excitement of a fundraiser, physical incentives, and natural competition between students.
Overall, the students were excited to run knowing they were helping their school.
As a physical reminder for what the students were accomplishing with each lap and mile completed, students were rewarded with a necklace chain along with small plastic tennis shoe charms for every 5 miles they ran. When students hit the goal of mile 26, they were given a golden tennis shoe charm signifying the major achievement they just accomplished.
At the end of the program, the male and female student with the most miles ran in each grade level were given the choice of a Spicewood Elementary hoodie or t-shirt for their accomplishment!
How Marathon Kids Helped Spicewood Elementary
Overall, in addition to assisting with tracking student miles for Spicewood Elementary’s fundraising efforts, the Marathon Kids program has helped students fall in love with running again. “It's fostered friendships, a little healthy competition, but most of all connection.”
Spicewood Elementary was not without its fair share of challenges in teaching students about running and motivating them to try their best, but thanks to the extra push of the fundraiser and Marathon Kids, many students discovered a love for running. The running helped students with their overall school performance and provided them with a newfound sense of self confidence. And the students who still weren’t as in love with running used their time as a way to be social and connect with new friends.
For one third grade student on the behavior spectrum, this opportunity to dive into running blossomed into a serious interest outside of school and he now even runs in 5ks in his free time. Other students that had difficulty finding friends were able to use the time spent running and walking to bond with other students and form new friendships.
After the fundraiser wrapped up, Spicewood Elementary had more funds to invest in their school and students, healthier students, and happier parents.
“We received so many texts and thank yous from parents after the on-campus kick off event. It was truly just what our community needed in that moment. A big dose of cheering, movement, high fives and sunshine on our campus we all love so much. We could not have executed that kick off for 800+ students without the help of our local Marathon Kids team teaching us how to scan and upload data.”
Even months later, parents are surprised by their children’s newfound (and continued) love for running. One parent even shared with PTA members and physical education teachers:
“I never knew my child loved running so much”.
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