A Race to Bring Out the Kid in Everyone


By Monica Petrova, Special to the Independent


Sharon Zevnikjoins her son along the El Morro track.

El Morro Elementary’s jog-a-thon, one of the largest PTA fundraisers, is a day filled with dancing and running laps in the school yard and enjoying some well deserved ice cream at the race’s end.

Prior to the event, students had to look for sponsorship from their families, relatives and friends.  The sponsors have the option to contribute a flat amount or pledge an amount for each lap ran by the student.

I had a chance to speak with Steffanie Gapp, the event organizer:

Q. Can anyone be a sponsor?

A. “Yes, anyone can sponsor!  Sponsorship opportunities include corporate sponsors and individual sponsors, some who join together with other families, friends, and classroom or as a bus stop group”

Q. How many sponsors donated this year?

Parent Kelly Boyd high fiving and encouraging students.

A. This year we had 24 wonderful families and businesses sponsor our event.

Q.  How will the donated funds be used?

A. The money collected will be used to bring new technology into our classrooms, and to support programs such as Art Masters, Colonial Days, Science on the Go, and Reading is Fundamental.

Q. Are there any special prizes for the students who participate in the event?

A. All students who participate in Jog-A-Thon will take part in a raffle on April 20 for some wonderful prizes, which includes an iPod touch, two Victoria skimboards, Volcolm backpacks, two skateboards, Hobie gift cards and much, much more!

Kelly Boyd and Frana Sadler warming up the students with some fun stretching and dancing

This year’s event was held on Friday, March 16, and all classes, from kindergarten through fifth grade, participated. And, yes, I wanted to be kid again.

The day started early as students, parents and faculty gathered in the school yard. Kids were restless with anticipation to run with their fellow classmates.  Parentswere fully equipped with cameras, purses, backpacks, venti cups of coffee andsafety pins to attach lapcards to the kids’ shirts.

At the “warm-up” station, PTA volunteers Trish Rocha, Kelly Boyd and Frana Sadler took the kids through various exercises. Most followed instruction diligently while others made their own moves and went with the rhythm of songs by popular artists. DJ Louie Ochoa kept the energy high. Ultimately, everyone was well warmed up and ready for the run.

As the kids took over the track, some parents and faculty joined them,while the rest stood on the sidelines cheering, tending to the water station table and helping with lap count checks. Some ran like the wind, some paced themselves, and others walked. You didn’t want to get caught in the middle as some parents discovered while trying to snap pictures. There were a few falls and spills along the course but nothing stopped those tough little athletes.

Saejah Barcack, Olivia Shipp and Madison Rogers were striking a pose for the camera.

They celebrated the race’s completion with ice cream provided by Trader Joe’s and volunteers Francia and Nancy, who seemed to have as much fun giving it away as the kids were enjoying it.


School was to resume for each grade after the completion of their race, but I know that if it were me, I could not have focused in class with all that excitement going on outside.


Organizers still don’t know if they reached their $50,000 goal. Steffanie Gapp sounded optimistic: “If reached we will celebrate with a school wide ice cream truck party for the entire school on April 20!”


Monica Petrova is a recent transplant to Laguna.

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