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Schools raise funds with healthy competition

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Money raised from a 5-kilometer run is helping pay for post-prom activities at Whiteland Community High School.

Another run, planned by a middle school, raised money for a children’s hospital.

Two local student councils are teaming up to host a 5K run that will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

For decades, school groups have sold candy, candles, food and countless other items to raise money for school clubs or for nonprofit groups. But raising money from conducting 5Ks is becoming a popular fundraising option for schools. Runs are often a community event, attracting large crowds and have a healthy focus, which helps with their popularity, organizers said.

“With a 5K, you can put your kid in a stroller and do a 5k,” said Jacinda Reardon, language arts teacher at Center Grove Middle School North.

Reardon’s school organized a run that raised more than a $1,000 for Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.

In some cases, the amount that can be raised with a 5K in one day easily beats what can be raised in weeks of collecting change and selling cookies.

“There are so many candy fundraisers, cookie dough fundraisers, people get tired of the same thing,” said Debbie Asher, a 5K organizer.

Asher and other parents in Whiteland conducted a 5K to help raise money for post-prom events. Parents were running out of new ideas to get money for the post-prom, she said.

Plus, a well-planned 5K can be a huge moneymaker. Participants pay an entry fee, and sponsors often donate items such as carnival games and food that make the run a community event.

“A lot of 5Ks can bring in a lot of money, and there is such a focus on fitness right now,” she said.

A run to raise money for leukemia and lymphoma research last year raised more than $1,000, compared with the $100 raised when they asked students to donate change. Greenwood and Center Grove student councils are again planning a run in April to raise money for research.

“Change and money have gone out the door,” said Julie Ulm, Greenwood’s student council sponsor. “It is something that is easily forgotten.”

Planning a 5K takes more work than traditional fundraisers but gets more attention, educators said.

Websites devoted to helping people plan 5Ks are common. National running enthusiasts track 5Ks and post them on their websites.

Organizers have to map out a route and figure out how to bring in residents by adding more activities, such as selling food and having carnival games.

“(Planning) is way more involved, but families were able to help out,” Reardon said. “It’s definitely a way bigger project to pull off, but it’s so worth it.”

5Ks are toted as family-friendly community events, which can help attract more people, she said.

Adding a carnival and frozen yogurt bar to an existing 5K helped students at Center Grove Middle School North raise $1,500 for Riley.

In most 5Ks, banners and other advertising can make the focus of the run clear, Reardon said.

“People get a lot of fundraising requests,” Reardon said. “A 5K is something you can come and enjoy.”

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