Running With Ed relay race, which raises $280,000 for Park City’s schools, canceled due to COVID-19 |

Running With Ed relay race, which raises $280,000 for Park City’s schools, canceled due to COVID-19

Jeff Dempsey
The Park Record
(Tanzi Propst/Park Record)
Tanzi Propst

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed another beloved community event.

The Park City Education Foundation announced Monday it has canceled its annual Running With Ed relay race, the organization’s most lucrative fundraiser and the event routinely named by Parkites as a favorite fundraiser.

Jennifer Billow, associate director of the foundation, said the nonprofit’s leaders met in early March to consider canceling the event, although at the time she said it seemed like a remote possibility. As race day drew closer, she said, they concluded they had no other choice.

“We discussed having a virtual event, which we saw a few races switch to,” she said. “However, Running with Ed is about community coming together in a joyous way to celebrate teachers and students and education in Park City. Running ‘virtually’ is kind of the opposite of what RWE is all about.”

The foundation explored the possibility of postponing the race but decided that wouldn’t work, either.

“RWE is a fairly complex event, with at least 40 different permitting entities,” she said. “The timing to hold it, weather-wise, is short. We would have to postpone it until summer or early fall. It’s impossible to know how long we will need to isolate as a community, and as we get into the fall, hopefully things will be back to normal and we’ll be planning our Red Apple Gala fundraiser.”

The event was to take place May 16. Even with six weeks to go, Billow said the foundation couldn’t afford to wait any longer to make a decision.

“We didn’t want to book vendors and suppliers and incur expenses if we were going to have to cancel the race,” she said. “Once the mandate was made to close the schools at least until May 1, as well as places like Basin Recreation, it made our decision easier. We can’t run the race without the physical places to hold it — all the schools for the exchanges, and Basin Rec for the start and finish party.”

Typically, Running With Ed raises about $280,000. Billow said the foundation is now exploring other ways to continue to support Park City School District teachers and students.

“Our teachers and students need PCEF donor support more than ever, and we have to focus on our purpose: to fund initiatives that inspire all Park City students to reach their academic and lifelong potential,” she said. “Right now, teachers are working and experiencing a monumental shift in educational expectations, delivery and practice. We are making it a priority to support that shift in any way possible — which means raising money right now to fund what is needed to make that shift successful.”

The foundation has shifted its focus to immediately raise money to expand its Express Grant Fund by $50,000 in order to support teacher and student at-home schooling needs. Express Grant funds will be distributed in ways that include:

• Classroom basics for low-income families

• Teacher funds for new educational technology resources

• Basic supplies for home off-screen learning

• Needs yet to be identified as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds

“We are hoping every RWE runner will turn into an RWE donor and support this fund,” she said. “We continue to look to the future so that when physical school reopens, and life returns to normal, we will be ready to resume support for preschool, elementary visual arts, afterschool, STEM, PCCAPS, Bright Futures and Classroom Grants. If everyone who ran or donated last year does so this year, we’ll be able to continue that support.”

On a personal level, Billow said she and the other foundation staffers and volunteers are disappointed to see the event canceled. They’ve worked hard over the past 10 years to build it into one of the community’s most cherished events.

“We’ll miss all the smiling faces and the joyous teacher and student runners,” she said.

More than anything, though, she said their concern is for the kids.

“We’re worried about fully funding our regular programs next year when things hopefully go back to ‘normal,’” she said. “But I would say mostly we’re hopeful. We know our community, as it always does, will rise up to support our teachers and students.

“And I guarantee that we cannot wait to come back full-force next year and make it the greatest celebration yet.”

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