When Cornell parent, Jennifer Basurto, was little, she made sure to take part every year in her elementary school’s Run-a-Thon. “I was one of those girls who outran most of my classmates in grade school,” she says. “There were only one or two boys who could beat me! And I could go far! So, each year, I couldn’t wait to show what I had at our annual Run-a-Thon. Even as an adult, I can remember going door-to-door to collect pledges. I was so proud that running was a way I could help my school.”
Jennifer’s memorable experiences putting her speed and stamina to work for her own education is good news for Cornell; four years ago, she founded the school’s annual Coyote Fun Run, and she’s been helping our kids put their own sneakers to the pavement to help the PTA ever since . . . with a unique twist. “The first Coyote Fun Run at Cornell was in 2014, when my daughter Leah became a fifth grader here. But I had already started one at my oldest son’s school when we lived in Berkeley, so I had thought a lot about run-a-thons! Here at Cornell, the parents on the event committee were given creative license and flexibility to shape the event, so I thought, ‘why not try to have a run-a-thon during some school days instead of how they’re usually done, as a big event on the weekend?”
Here’s how the Coyote Fun Run works: Each year, during Coyote Fun Run Week, Cornell kids use some of their Physical Education class time to run laps. Most students are given fifteen minutes to run as many laps as they can (kindergarteners and first graders get ten). When the kids complete their laps, parent volunteers tally and record them. This year, each child will earn a ribbon for taking part in the event. Each ribbon will indicate how many laps each student has completed, and students can collect their pledges after the run, either using paper forms handed out in Friday Folders or on-line, via the Fun Run website: coyotefunrun.org. Parents can also volunteer for the event by cheering students on, or handing out water and oranges slices while they run. Sometimes, Cornell teachers even warm up and run with the students!
“It takes a lot of work, but really, that ‘in school’ model has been solid from the start. The first year of the Fun Run, we raised over $5,000 for the PTA.” Now, with the help of Cornell parents and Fun Run Committee members, Holly Castrillón, Ping Fahn, Kirsten Piroth, and Natasha Puchner-Doppler, as well as the endless enthusiasm of our own Coach Joel (who helps coordinate 23 separate class runs during Run Week!), the event makes more money than ever: “This past year we almost doubled that amount!”
But, as Jennifer points out, the Coyote Fun Run is not just about fundraising. “It’s also about the really important goal of promoting fitness,” she says. And so far, that point has been made loud and clear since the event started four years ago. Every year, about 550 kids join in for the event. “Last year,” says Jennifer, “the kids ran a total of about 6,800 laps! That’s like running from Albany to about fifty miles north of the California-Oregon border. It’s really amazing.”
And there’s no doubt that Cornell kids love the Coyote Fun Run tradition. Each year, Cornell teachers email Jennifer to forward her reflection assignments that their students have written about participating in the event. “The kids write about how they never thought they could run so far or collect so many pledges,” Jennifer says. “It’s a real experience of pride for many of them, and they look forward to running again the next year. It reminds me of the fun I had with my own run-a-thons when I was little. It’s the main reason why I organize the event every year.”
For this year’s Fun Run, which will be held May 15th-19th, Cornell students have more than the opportunity to get moving for the school to look forward to. Extra recess and a Popsicle party will be awarded to classes who run the highest average of laps in three grade categories (Kindergarten/1st, 2nd/3rd, and 4th/5th). In addition, every child who collects a pledge will have their name placed in a drawing for a chance to win a Mystery Prize donated by local toy store 5 Little Monkeys!
Cornell parents can look forward to a wonderful change to the event too. Thanks to local sponsors, Cordula Didier of Marvin Gardens Real Estate, and Barbara McDonald, graphic designer and owner of Sign Me Up!, the Fun Run now has its own event website. Says Jennifer: “By donating some money and their expertise, they’ve made it possible for people to sign up on our event website and pay for pledges online! It’s easy to make donations quickly and share on social media at the click of a button, and it’s a great way to reach all of those far-away family members and friends.” When you visit the website, be sure to take a look at the new coyote graphic for the event– it was designed by Committee Member Ping Fahn. Many thanks to Ping for her work!
So, On your Mark, Get Set, Go! It’s time to lace up those shoes and get ready for the Coyote Fun Run the week of May 15th! The starting line awaits!
If you’d like to be a parent volunteer for the event, please sign up at: http://signup.com/go/byMWLtN
If you’d like to sponsor a student & check out the website, please visit: coyotefunrun.org