It’s become an institution that is indicative of the supportive community at the heart of Ottawa Christian School (OCS).
In its 41st year, the school walkathon united the vast majority of OCS students with their parents, grandparents, other family members, friends and community members to raise a record $67,116.31.
Principal Paul Triemstra says the Sept. 24 fundraiser upheld tradition as a fun and friendly community-building time, as people of all ages walked and/or ran the 10-kilometre route then enjoyed a barbecue, as well as an inflatable bouncy slides and obstacle route.
Family Radio CHRI added to the celebration as on-air personalities Care Baldwin and Brock Tozer played music and handed out prizes.
“These kinds of things help the children to really enjoy the day. So they work and then they play,” Triemstra says.
Advancement co-ordinator Virginia Dawson says the walkathon is a “huge community builder for the school” early in the new year, as the approximately 20 new families have a chance to come out, enjoy the day and meet people.
Leading the 2011 walkathon organizers were Beth and Paul Wood, whose family just joined OCS last year.
This year’s original fundraising goal was set at what seemed to be an ambitious $60,000 but followed on the heels of the 2010 walkathon that surpassed its target.
“This is a wonderful, supportive community,” Triemstra says.
“I know that I have, and it’s not atypical, that families have a network of folk who expect a phone call about the walkathon and that’s their avenue, or one of their avenues at least, to contribute to the school,” he says.
Baldwin, who notes that the local Christian radio station is proud to be part of the walkathon tradition, says “people donate to charities they believe in and when there’s an annual campaign they can look forward to, they always plan around that.”
She says the collaborative effort behind the walkathon is remarkable, along with the additional financial support offered by parents, families and the community.
Emily Mulder is the daughter of an OCS graduate and local businessman who was the top fundraiser in Grade 6 and amongst the school’s top fundraisers at $2,000. She says the walkathon is successful because most people are familiar with the Barrhaven school and the importance of supporting the students’ education.
Grade 8 student Mikaela Hummel says the experience of attending a Christian school helped motivate her to raise $3,000.
“Everyone just accepts each other and it’s a really inclusive environment. And all the teachers are really helpful; they help you go beyond and they share knowledge, and it’s just a nice place to go to school,” she says.
Grade 2 student Andrew Ten Den pledged to visit a seniors’ home for every $100 he collected. With $825 realized, he says he’ll make good on his promise.
He echoes Grade 1 student Liam Vedder, who collected more than $1,000, in the good feelings they get when they help their school.
Students also had a few extra incentives to fundraise this year.
“Mr. T’s going to sit on the roof,” Emily says, referring to Triemstra’s pledge to move his desk to the school roof and dye his hair orange for a day if a fundraising threshold was met.
With more than $65,000 raised, two teachers and the school’s administrative assistant will change their hair colour too.
“It seemed to animate the kids for sure,” Triemstra says of the incentives, adding he looks forward to his fun day of change on Oct. 14.
For their efforts, all students can also look forward to an ice cream party. Individual fundraising efforts are honoured with gift cards from a local Christian book store.