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ARES Tiger Trot raises money for school

At one time or another, just about every kid has brought home a slick catalog featuring chocolate goodies, fancy candles or wrapping paper. That's the way fundraising goes at schools.

But that will change if the folks at Akin Road Elementary School have a say in it. Last Friday, the ARES Parent Teacher Partnership tried something new, and it was pretty successful. So the days of catalog sales are coming to an end.

Called the Tiger Trot, the new fundraiser is a running event, kind of mimicking a marathon. PTP members set up a quarter-mile trail behind the school. Kids had to collect pledges prior to the run. Once at the Tiger Trot, the kids ran laps around the track. In some cases, they were joined by their parents, their teachers, superintendent Jay Haugen and even a gingerbread man.

Yep. A gingerbread man.

In order to kind of raise interest and get kids excited for the event, one of the Akin Road Elementary teachers dressed up in a gingerbread man costume and starred in a number of commercials that were shown during the morning announcements last week. Kids might have suspected who the teacher in the costume was, but the only way to know for sure was to come and participate last Friday.

"Since this is the first year, we thought once they start seeing the commercials they would think, 'maybe I should do that because it sounds fun,'" said teacher Gale Poore, who made the commercials. "There were five commercials for them to watch, to kind of get them psyched up to go."

And so it did. Looking over the pledge sheets collected, PTP president Mary Treakle said 443 students participated.

Organizers have not yet added up all of the pledges. Each student who earned $25 in pledges got a free t-shirt. Some students brought in about $5 in pledges, while others brought in more than $100.

Regardless, principal Laura Pierce said she's heard nothing but good comments about the event.

"The kids were having a blast," Pierce said. "It was a challenge for the kids to see how many legs they could run. By the end of the evening, we saw kids who were running three miles and more. They were running with their friends, their parents, their teachers. We have a lot of cross country runners in training, I think."

More importantly, parents supported the event because they knew 100 percent of the proceeds from the run would go to Akin Road Elementary School.

That was the goal, Treakle said. In the past, working with vendors that sell items from a catalog meant the school got only a portion of the proceeds, rather than all of the money raised.

"All the money you're giving is going to the school instead of having to pay someone else first," Treakle said. "I think this was well received by the Akin population of the teachers, parents and kids.... A lot of parents said they liked it better than doing the product drives."

In addition to the run, several community organizations had tables set up to share information. Pizza Man of Farmington donated pizza for the event, and the Miss Farmington court was on hand to distribute water.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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