Walk produces miles of fun, funds - Catholic Courier

Walk produces miles of fun, funds

Oct. 12 was a banner day for exercise at Ithaca’s Immaculate Conception School: Students did their part by taking a lengthy walk, and adults pitched in by exercising their wallets and pocketbooks.

The first-time “Fun Walk” fundraiser event was highly successful, raising slightly more than $10,000 to benefit the school. It featured second- through eighth-graders walking 26 times around the school’s exterior, while at the same time youngsters in prekindergarten through first grade did 26 laps indoors around the gymnasium.

The day featured such highlights as disc-jockey music, refreshments and snacks. Faculty and parents were on hand to help, and walkers also welcomed support from Cornell University football and lacrosse players. The Big Red athletes — who have a lengthy tradition of volunteering at the school — cheered on the students, gave them water and signed their race shirts afterward. Carolann Saggese, a Fun Walk organizer and member of the school’s advisory committee, noted that it was quite a sight for these hulking collegians to lean over and high-five diminutive walkers a fraction of their size.

Saggese said the number 26 had double significance for the Fun Walk. It took place on the 26th day of the 2007-08 school year, and 26 also is the number of miles in a standard marathon distance. Though the Fun Walk didn’t measure out nearly that far, the course distances — approximately five miles for the outdoor event and 1{1/2} for the gym portion — were still considerable based on the walkers’ ages.

“I have to tell you, the students were exhausted,” said Saggese, who walked the last couple of outdoor laps with her son Anthony, a second-grader. Yet rather than drag to the finish line, they sprinted: “All of his friends were inside having snow cones and bananas, and he wanted to make sure he got in on that,” laughed Saggese, whose daughter Julianna, a first-grader, navigated the gymnasium course.

Virtually all the Immaculate Conception students took part, regardless of what shape they were in.

“If they were not athletic, they were still doing it because their friends were doing it. Everyone participated up to the point of what they wanted to,” Saggese said, adding that youngsters who were physically unable to go the entire 26 laps were awarded bonus laps.

Organizers had been uncertain about the event’s outdoor segment due to rainy conditions when the day began. But things dried up just in time for the two-hour festivities to proceed smoothly beginning at noon — then the rain started up again almost as soon as the walk was over.

“It was a perfect window of opportunity,” Saggese remarked.

Students had enlisted sponsors prior to the walk and came away with excellent support in what served as a new approach for the school’s annual fall fundraiser.

“Everyone said it brought so much spirit there. It brought all the classes together,” Saggese said. “Even the pre-K, which usually has limited interaction, got to play and walk with some of the older students.”

“It was a huge success,” added Principal Diana Oravec, who lauded the organizing committee for its many hours of volunteer time. “Everyone was smiling at Immaculate that day.”

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