by Kirby Lindsay, posted 7 September 2012
On Friday, September 28th, the children of B.F. Day Elementary School – surrounded by staff and volunteers – will walk the pavement of the school playground. This is Walk & Roll, an annual fundraiser where student walk to raise funds for school programs as determined by the PTSA.
How We ‘Walk & Roll’
“It’s so much fun,” organizer Carolyn Kelley said of Walk & Roll, “the kids just enjoy being out with their friends and walking around.” As a fundraiser, this event contains several elements that elevate it to rock star category – it promotes physical fitness, involves the students in easy yet fun ways, and costs very little to produce while, so far, bringing in much needed funds.
“I feel very lucky that inflation hasn’t hit it yet,” Kelley said. She organizes the walk, nearly single-handedly, and spends about $300 to do so each year. In 2011, she reported, Walk & Roll brought in a record $19,000 (plus or minus.) “Even with the recession,” she acknowledged, still amazed, “it keeps going up each year.”
The funds come from pledges and donations students solicit in the weeks leading up to Walk & Roll from family, friends and strangers. The children use envelopes Kelley creates and the classrooms distribute, and ask donors to pledge per lap the child will complete on the playground on September 28th, or a flat amount.
The last Friday in September, in shifts, every student will spend an hour on the playground. They walk a course, at their own pace, laid out in the early morning hours by Kelley, following the cones and the other children. As each student passes a certain point on the loop, volunteers punch a hole in a tag card the children wear around their necks. At the end of the event, Kelley counts up the punches to determine how many laps each child successfully completed.
“I knew about this type of event,” Kelley said about the original idea, “from people that had a child at Green Lake [Elementary School.]” She got suggestions from organizers at Green Lake, but over the fourteen years she’s done it, the B.F. Day Walk & Roll has evolved to suit the unique community this fundraiser serves.
Fun & Prizes & Acknowledgement For All
Kelly began Walk & Roll fifteen years ago when her son started at the school. She chose the name deliberately, “because the first year that I did it,” she explained, “there was a young man in an electronic wheelchair.” Currently, all B.F. Day students walk the course, but Kelley stuck with the name that identifies this effort as an inclusive endeavor.
Each year, Kelley splurges on the participation ribbons distributed to every student in the school. All participants get a ribbon, and a letter of congratulations. Students who were absent the day of Walk & Roll also get a ribbon and a letter, “saying we missed you,” she explained. “I have been in homes where former B.F. Day students have their six ribbons still on display,” Kelley observed.
Kelley used to distribute prizes, donated by local businesses, to the highest earning students. After so many children expressed disappointment each year at not winning, she shifted her focus towards hosting a party (of popcorn, or floats, or cupcakes,) to the classroom that brings in the most donations. The highest earning classroom also gets acknowledged on a plaque that lists the winner from each year. This year she’s also at work on a prize to acknowledge the classroom with 100% participation – although, in the past 14 years, that happened only once.
For students that bring in significant donations, Kelley organizes a ‘Lunch with the Principal.’ “The first years we did it,” she explained, “those who raised $100 got lunch…” The threshold went up to $250 a few years ago, and last year 80 kids went to the lunch.
At B.F. Day, The Family School
“I fell in love with the school and the building,” Kelley admitted about her arrival at B.F. Day. Her son started at the school during a time of great strife in their family, with divorce and changes to deal with, and, “the school was rock solid with him,” Kelley observed. “I wanted to do something to be supportive,” she explained, and she developed Walk & Roll.
She knows people wondered if, after her son graduated, she’d stop caring yet, “it’s the biggest celebration of my year,” she explained. Kelley has even managed to stay at B.F. Day, as her son goes on to college. An occupational therapist by profession, Kelley now works at B.F. Day and Salmon Bay School helping students. Still, she organizes Walk & Roll on her own time, as a member of the community, and “if they are willing to let me do it again,” she said, “I’ll do it again.”
Most of the work setting up, and settling up, Walk & Roll Kelly manages by herself, but she cannot do it all alone. “I’m always impressed with the number of volunteers that turn out,” Kelley observed, “without those people out here that day, I couldn’t do it.” On the day of the walk, volunteers are needed – to help with the fun!
“I’m very grateful to the kids, the teachers, the parents, and the volunteers,” Kelley praised. If anyone can volunteer – punching holes, or supervising the playground – on September 28th, please contact Kelley at email@example.com or 206/783-3284
For those unable to attend in person, make a donation. “The money that is raised goes into the PTSA budget,” explained Kelley. The PTSA will decide which programs – or staff – need it most, and will improve the school for the most students possible. To donate, visit the PTSA website and click on the donation button – and post a note to say the money supports the children, the Walk, and to keep B.F. Day on a Roll!
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©2012 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.