I started my Halloween weekend off with a super exciting visit to our Fittest School for 2014, Lincoln Elementary in Madison.
Lincoln was one of our 2013 Adopted Schools, and that is where I had the privilege of working with phy-ed teacher Anthony Smith. It’s easy to see why kids at Lincoln are so eager and excited about fitness when you meet Anthony. Mr. Smith has an incredible level of energy (which you need in order to keep up with 3rd-5th graders), and has a great way of making fitness fun and relevant to all kids. I’ve visited several times and watched him teach classes, and I always leave with a smile on my face.
This year, even though they were not one of our five adopted schools, Lincoln nearly QUADRUPLED the number of kids who participated in our events – most notably our two mud runs. With 187 kids total, they were far and away our fittest school of the year, and much of it was due to the great work Anthony did of promoting and signing up all the kids.
I think it’s important to note that many of Lincoln’s students participated via our scholarship program, which allows any child on free or reduced lunch to enter our events for free. We also were able to help with shuttles to get the kids to and from each race thanks to your generous donations. Because of this reduction of barriers to participation, these kids were able to enjoy several healthy opportunities (many of them repeat participants) this year that then will fund resources to keep them active in school.
We were joined at the school celebration with a few key partners: Fireman Rob Verhelst of the Fireman Rob Foundation, and our friends from Dean & St. Mary’s/SSM Healthcare.
Rob is a firefighter with the City of Madison, a multiple-time Ironman, father of three, and philanthropist who uses his athletic endurance skills to help fund initiatives that benefit the health of children around the country. He has been a huge advocate for us over the years, and he congratulated the kids on their achievement and encouraged them to continue to stay healthy, active, and support their school.
Dean & St. Mary’s have been sponsors since 2012, and have always gone above and beyond to support us. Financial support is absolutely critical to keep our events and programs running so we can contribute funds back to schools, and they understand our unique model and the direct impact it has in our schools. The key proof of their dedication? We were blessed to have President of St. Mary’s hospital, Dr. Frank Byrne, as well as Damond Boatwright from SSM Healthcare, join us for the presentation. Wow.
Keep up the great work, Lincoln, and we hope to see you defend your title next year!