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South Jordan Journal

Three South Jordan school’s fun runs provide fitness for students, funds for schools

Nov 01, 2021 03:27PM ● By Julie Slama

Monte Vista students run through an archway of balloons to start their school fun run fundraiser. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Hundreds of South Jordan elementary students recently tied up their laces as part of three schools’ fun runs designed to increase student fitness and bring in donations to fund PTA activities.

These activities typically support Reflections; field trips; ribbon weeks; art, music, science/STEM, literacy or math programs; class parties; teacher grants; teacher appreciation week and more. Incentives from corn maze passes to breakfast with champions were designed to inspire students to bring in funds.

While some schools’ students venture to run around neighborhoods, all three of these schools’ PTAs stayed close to “home,” creating tracks for students to run on their playgrounds. 

South Jordan Elementary

For two years, fourth-grader Makenzi Wahlberg wanted to improve on the number of laps she ran in the school’s last fun run. 

Two years ago she ran one full lap, then added on eight half-laps, a modification granted her since she has cerebral palsy. 

On Sept. 24, she ran seven full laps.

“It felt good; I ran more laps and just had fun,” said Makenzi, who also is involved in cheer, dance and tumbling.

Part of the fun was being handed silly string to spray on her classmates and even herself.

“I had it backwards when I sprayed it at first,” she explained.

That resulted in giggles and laughter, said her teacher Karrie Wardell.

“Makenzi is just an example for all of us,” Wardell said. “She’s very independent and says 'I can do anything, just like everyone else.' She’s inspirational, happy and very mature. Makenzi teaches us that we can do hard things. She teaches that every day. Inclusion is good. We accept each other as we are and appreciate, celebrate and honor each other as well.”

And if that wasn’t the “bomb,” students were invited to wear their groovy school T-shirt or dress in some “far out and funky threads” while “booking it,” since the run’s theme matched the school’s: Rams Groovin’ Through The Year, said South Jordan Elementary’s PTA president Misty Huntsman.  

“We wanted to come back to the fun run to unite our community after the COVID-19 year canceled it and most everything last year,” she said, adding that she had about 90 parents and grandparents volunteering with the event that raised $30,000, the PTA’s goal.

Hunstman pointed out that parent Jason Tingey was “stellar” in “boogying down” and cheering on runners. Fourth-grader Eden Myntti ran by him several times, while her mother, Jaime, calculated her daughter’s laps into completing 1.8 miles.

“I like that it gets the kids active and moving,” Myntti said. “My kids love it and I like that the school gets 100% of the funds.”

Eden, who ran some of the laps with friends, said she liked “how it shows what you can do” even though the track “seemed a lot bigger than before.”

Her favorite part: “How we get treats afterwards.”

Jordan Ridge Elementary

Four days later, Jordan Ridge Elementary students were running circles on their campus. This included kindergarten twins Callie and Janny Mitchell, who created a video and shared it with friends and family on their mother’s account to raise $200 for the school.

In the video, Janny warns watchers, “I got to warn you, we’re fast.”

Callie then adds, “Lightning fast” before the twins tear off running.

During the run, the girls kept a steady pace with smiles on their faces.

“They gave up naps when they were 18 months old and have been running circles for years,” said their mother, McKenzie Mitchell, who ran in the fundraiser when she attended the school. “They love school and have been so excited for this. We had to get them special "Incredibles" hoodies to match the theme.”

Even their younger sister, Mabel, was wearing a matching "Incredibles" sweatshirt, cheering on the runners.

The superhero-themed run has been successful not only in fundraising for the school, as this year students “crushed our goal” of $15,000 by bringing in $38,000, but also how “it brings the kids together; they get so excited about it,” said Jordan Ridge PTA president Nicole Kerr. “The generosity of parents and sponsors have been amazing. We are truly so blessed to have so many supportive parents and businesses in our community.”

Amongst those who were excited for the run was third-grader Stone Anderson and his kindergartner brother, Holt. 

Stone said he had trained for the race by running “up and down to the big tree,” retrieving a suctioned arrow after launching it from the far end of his backyard.

“It’s just fun for the kids to get excited and try to do their best,” said their mother, Jessica.

Monte Vista Elementary

The third fun run in a week’s time was the Mustang Stampede at Monte Vista, with a goal of raising $18,000. It returned to its usual format of a grade running together after it was held in a modified format last year during the pandemic, said Monte Vista PTA president Jenny Christensen.

Parents were welcome back to watch or volunteer, which Caleb Jackson, father of third-grader Ayvree, did as he got to watch his daughter run and marked off laps each student ran in the first fun run he has attended.

“This is craziness and fun for the kids,” he said. “I like how it gets kids active and motivated.”

PTA member Kiley Pew came to volunteer to mark laps for students as she watched her sixth-grade son, Logan, and second-grader, Boston, run around the grassy field, while her baby, Madison, napped in a stroller.

“I like being involved in the kids’ activities and being a help to teachers in the school,” she said. “It’s just a help to the school when we can be involved and support what they’re doing.”

Boston, who said he ran to the tree in his backyard four times every day to get ready for the run, said the Mustang Stampede was “fun, hard, fast,” but the best part of it all was “you get to run.”

Veteran teacher Sabrina Addington is teaching her first year at Monte Vista and witnessed her first fun run fundraiser.

“This is awesome,” she said. “I haven’t seen anything like this. I like it because parents are involved in organizing this incredible event and it motivates each of the students to set a goal and go after it. The kids are so excited; they were letting me know all about it.”