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Students Dash and Chase for fun, funds

Running or walking for fun and fitness is the aim of similar events held at two local schools this week.

Students, staff and parents got into the act as Westside held its Wildcat Chase and May Street held its decades-old Dragon Dash in a run for pledges, with the money going to parent teacher organizations.

Each year, the money raised goes to fitness programs and equipment, playground upgrades and other uses that encourage wellness. PTO at Westside is considering a variety of options for the Chase cash, according to Principal Ed Drew, who is retiring this year. Drew, a former coach, donned athletic shorts and strode with the kids in what will be his last Chase as principal.

At May Street, the funds will be used for the annual PE Camp and for creation of a running-walking lane around the inside of the schoolyard fence, said Principal Kelly Beard. The PTO will match a $4,800 Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant for the project, which Beard said could start this summer. Once complete, students and the community will have an exercise track for all seasons. Currently, the route is on oft-sloshy grass.

At both schools, classrooms took half-hour turns outside to rack up laps.

Beard credited the strong support of more than 30 parents, led by DeLona Campos-Davis, in organizing Dragon Dash.

Drew said his PTO is “an organization like none I’ve ever worked with — they are on top of it, from the idea to every detail of the follow-through.”

A core group of 20 parents helped, with many others taking turns during the day.

“At the end there was not a speck of litter and even the trash cans were hosed out,” Drew said.

The day-long event is not just about the money. Virtually every student and teacher participates.

“Whether they gather pledges or not, all kids get involved and get some exercise,” Drew said.

— Kirby Neumann-Rea

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