Education Foundation encourages community to sprint to Running With Ed
Melissa Bott had no way of knowing what was beginning when she participated in the inaugural Running With Ed fundraiser on a snowy and slushy day in the spring of 2010.
Bott, a teacher at Parley’s Park Elementary School, said the day was fun despite the chilly weather, but she recalled one curious thing: She didn’t bump into many other runners on the course.
"There weren’t that many people out there," she said.
Six years later, things have changed quite a bit. What started with just a few hundred participants has turned into one of the most anticipated events of the year. Organizers of Running With Ed, the annual 38-mile, 10-leg race that serves as a fundraiser for the Park City Education Foundation, expect roughly 1,500 people to run this year.
"It’s turned into a pretty big thing," said Jen Billow, events, marketing and communications manager for the foundation.
But time is running out to join in the festivities, which are scheduled for May 21. Regular registration, which costs $400 for a team of five runners — each additional member cost $80, with a 10-member max — for the event ends Friday. Registration will continue for two more weeks after Friday’s deadline, but at an increased cost.
The Education Foundation is urging those considering running to lace up their shoes. Running With Ed is one of the foundation’s most important events, and it raised about $250,000 last year — almost a quarter of what the foundation raised in the entire year. Much of the money goes to the annual school grants that fund programs directed at entire schools or grades.
"We put back into the schools almost everything that we fundraise," said Billow. "If we couldn’t do (Running With Ed), that would mean we’d have to cut back our funding for all the programs."
Bott, as someone who’s successfully applied for grants from the foundation, knows firsthand how important the money collected during Running With Ed is. One of the grants she wrote was for take-home libraries at McPolin Elementary School that allowed underprivileged students to take books home.
"It makes a huge difference," she said. "There are so many things in our district that are not offered throughout the state and a lot of places throughout the country. The money that the Education Foundation raises allows us to differentiate ourselves for the needs of the students. It gives them an opportunity for so many other things.
"If you have to spend money, why not do it on education?" she added. "It’s the best cause ever."
Bott is among the most enthusiastic participants each year. She said the event is a success because people see it as a celebration and as a time to gather in support of education. The fact that it’s a lot of fun helps, too.
"It’s the sense of community," she said. "It gives you that sense of pride, and it’s for such a great cause."
Running With Ed’s organizers didn’t initially envision it becoming such an important community event. Billow said that, while that aspect of the event’s success was unexpected, it’s ultimately as important as the amount of money raised.
"I think it’s just a great way that Park City shows its support for education," she said. "We are really kind of amazed that it’s become one of those things like the Fourth of July — one of those events that everyone loves to do. It’s really gratifying that the community and everyone has embraced it so much."
Botts is also appreciative of the community support. And she’s looking forward to seeing all the new faces on the course in May.
"I don’t think there’s anything else like this fundraiser," she said. "There’s lot of other fundraisers and community projects, but this one is unique. It’s all age groups, and it’s not just a fancy dinner. It’s meant for anyone who wants to participate."
For more information, or to register, visit runningwithed.com.
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