By TONIA HILL
Ray Elementary School, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., will host its second annual walk-a-thon on Friday, May 19.
The fundraiser, in which Ray students walk, skip, or run on a designated path outside the school will help to support new recess equipment and maintain its partnership with the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club (HPNC), 5480 S. Kenwood Ave.
Funds would also go toward a new water fountain for filling water bottles. Friends of Ray, the group behind the fundraiser, is looking to raise $25,000.
As of Herald press time, ¬†$15,000 has been raised just a few days before the event.
Anne Renna, Ray Parent and a member of Friends of Ray School Parent Teacher Organization, said the fundraising is right on track with last year’s campaign.
Friends of Ray have an online fundraising site that is similar to ones used in charity races.
Students have been getting the word out about the fundraiser by creating web pages with details on the event and the fundraising goal. They will also share their pages across social media platforms.
Renna said that during last year’s fundraiser the school met its goal of $25,000 and also raised $3,000 on the day of the walk-a-thon.
Renna said Ray had its inaugural walk-a-thon last year due to budget cuts over the last two years in the Chicago Public School (CPS) district.
“[Budget cuts] made it difficult for our school to adequately staff recess,” Renna said. “Sometimes we have as many as 75 kids and only one adult.”
The walk-a-thon was birthed, said Renna, with the goal in mind to raise enough money to hire additional staff for indoor and outdoor recess.
Ray forged a partnership with the HPNC who for the last year has staffed four employees to monitor recess at Ray.
“It’s been a really good partnership for both organizations because the HPNC already has staff that works with kids in their afterschool program but they weren’t necessarily able to offer those employees full-time hours until the partnership with Ray School,” Renna said.
HPNC staff members come to Ray and work three hours during the school day and then return to the HPNC in the afternoon.
Sarah Diwan, executive director of the HPNC said the organization is pleased to work alongside Ray.
“I admire the Ray parents and the Ray PTO for taking the initiative to raise money for these types of programs,” Diwan said. “It’s very unfortunate that this is what we have to do in this day and age but it’s the reality of public school.”
The walk-a-thon consists of a quarter of a mile walk, jog, or skip depending on the preference or physical ability of each student.
One to three grade levels will be out per period from 9:45 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Friday.
The quarter mile route will wrap around the east playground near 56th and Kenwood Ave., Amanda’s garden and near the teacher’s parking lot.
As students walk, run, or skip, community members will be cheering them on, and once they complete a lap, each student receives a colorful bracelet.
For more information about Ray’s walk-a-thon visit, rayschool.dojiggy.com.