Starting out early on a cool Saturday morning (Sept. 21), Literacy Alive! gathered participants from the area to walk around the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith campus to help generate money for literacy.
Starting at 8 a.m. the runners took off with the walkers and joggers not far behind them. Their goal was to make three laps around the UAFS campus which completed a 5k run.
Heather Wheeler, president of Kappa Delta Pi Education Honors Society, Joshua Bogdon and his daughter Nika Bogdon stood at the starting/finish line recording times of each participant as they completed laps and giving them encouragement. The fastest runner — Tim Phentrakoun – came in at 22 minutes and 15 seconds, with Lanty Brake only 8 seconds behind him. Joshua Price, only 10 years old, made the full run in 22 minutes and 58 seconds netting him the price of first place for children. First place got the choice of a $30 Best Buy gift card or $25 Sams/Walmart gift card, with second place getting prices of Golden Corral and other local areas.
In addition to the running there was an obstacle course for children.
This is the third year the Kappa Delta Pi Education Honors Society has hosted this event. Meredith Maestri, the president at the time who began the event, said she got the idea from her sister who was passionate about 5k runs and decided it would be a great way to come together for a wonderful cause. Maestri is now a teacher at Alma intermediate school. Literacy Alive! gave around $1,200 the first year to Tilles Elemetary and Northside High schools, and $1,000 the second year to the Moffett Public school system.
The money is not just donated though, said Louis Yocum, co-counselor of the society.
“When we went to Moffett we had the kids make tacos which was a visual representation of a paragraph so it taught them how to create paragraphs and at Tilles we had the students make their own books by combining small sections,” Yocum said.
Yocum also said the event is “a great learning experience for the students running the event as many go on to become full time teachers.” The event also involves UAFS faculty and former students.
The literacy effort also includes an annual Scholastic Book Fair in the west hallway of the Smith Pendergraft Campus Center on Oct. 7-9, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day. The proceeds from the book fair benefit another school district while $300 benefit students of UAFS who win an essay contest. Each winner receives $100 in Scholastic Book credit to purchase what they would like.
While the Literacy Alive! did not have as many sponsors as usual Deebe Milford, co-counselor of the society, was hopeful that they would be able to give at least 1,000 to the school that won the most votes. Each participant was able to write down either the school they were from or a school in their area and the one with the most votes gets the donation.
Literacy Alive! had 76 participants sign up for early registration at $15 per adult and $10 per kid with an additional 12 sign up late at $20 per adult and $15 per kid.
“The event was at Chaffee Crossing in the past and we were very pleased to hold it on the UAFS campus since it is cleaner and easier to organize,” Yocum said.