By GABRIELLA CRUZ-MARTÍNEZ
William H. Ray Elementary School, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., is gearing up to host its third annual walk-a-thon on May 18. The school is almost halfway to its ambitious $30,000 goal thanks to the generous donors who have covered the cost of the event; including recent sponsor, SocialWorks: Chance the Rapper’s Youth Empowerment Charity.
SocialWorks is a nonprofit organization founded by Chance the Rapper that aims to empower youth through the arts, education and civic engagement while fostering leadership and positivity throughout Chicago, according to the organization’s website.
According to Friends of Ray PTO, funds will be used to install new recess equipment over the summer and have recess monitors from the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club (HPNC) in place for the start of the school year in September. Additionally, funds will be used to install a new water fountain for filling water bottles, encouraging students to drink water instead of sugary juices and soda.
“The funding we and other Chicago Public Schools receive is insufficient to cover our needs,” said Anne Renna, vice president of Friends of Ray PTO. “The walk-a-thon helps us to raise the funds necessary to make recess both safe and fun for all our students. Recess is a very important part of the school day at Ray because we know that active minds reside in active bodies.”
Friends of Ray has successfully met their $25,000 fundraising goal in each of the last two years (2016 and 2017). Their tagline this year is “We’re Stepping up our Support for Ray!” for this year’s event reflects an increased fundraising goal to ensure they can pay the new recess monitors from the HPNC an increased hourly wage.
In order to make sure the walk-a-thon has a large number of participants, Renna said the organization has donated t-shirts to the first 20 walk-a-thon volunteers that have signed up at Ray Elementary, as well as a basket prize. The basket prize was won earlier last week by second grader, Nasayah Flakes.
During the last few months, participants that have registered in the walk-a-thon have been entered into a series of fun raffles for a chance to win prizes like a family membership to the Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr., and Principal for a Day.
During the walk-a-thon each year, students are encouraged to reach their personal best distance by walking, skipping, or running through the school’s playground, while family members and volunteers cheer them on in the race-like atmosphere with start and finish lines, course monitors at the sidelines and hydration stations. Students will also get snacks by sponsors GoGo squeeZ and RxBar.
To register students and make donations visit http://rayschool.dojiggy.com.