Why 253 Indian Prairie school supporters are becoming charity runners
The biggest charity team in the Naperville Marathon has more than doubled, and that figures to be good news for students in some Naperville and Aurora schools.
The showing continues the foundation's run as the top charity in the marathon's fundraising program, which has raised more than $750,000 in three years. Indian Prairie Educational Foundation's Team IPEF raised $32,000 with 31 runners in 2014 and $88,500 with 108 runners last year.
This year, each runner has committed to raising at least $250 -- not to mention running a distance that makes couch potatoes cringe.
Executive Director Susan Rasmus said the majority of the runners are Indian Prairie Unit District 204 employees, "which speaks volumes for the staff that work in this district that they're willing to get out there and raise awareness and funds."
The foundation uses the money to give grants to teachers and support programs such as the annual fine arts festival, a science and technology fair and cardiac screenings.
Early childhood teacher Kristine Black said she's coming back for her third year as a Team IPEF charity runner because she's seen the foundation help youngsters she teachers at Prairie Children Preschool in Aurora.
"It's just a great experience to give back to your school district and the kids you work with every day," Black said.
Black has raised more than $1,000 each of the past two years. Some of that money has gone to buy stop signs to use when students ride their bikes during class and books on social/emotional learning.
"It's exciting to be able to support those projects and things that our teachers are doing in the classroom," Rasmus said.
Most of the team's charity runners are signed up for the half marathon, including nearly all of the 45 runners representing Metea Valley High School. English teacher Eric Anerino, who coaches cross country and track, encouraged fellow teachers to sign up and got 32 of them to commit to go the distance, along with a handful of their spouses and Metea parents. He's leading the team in twice weekly training starting Thursday, as many of the runners are attempting 13.1 for the first time.
"I view it as a good cause that goes back to our students," Anerino said.
Already, 375 people have signed up for to fundraiser for 12 nonprofits in this year's race -- nearing the total of 400 from last year, Race Director Craig Bixler said. Runners can expect even more charities along the course. Nonprofits can sign up to claim a mile and fill it with cheering volunteers in exchange for a check from race host Naper Events, LLC.
"We'll have some charity miles along the course where charities will be out cheering on runners," Bixler said. "It just shows what a giving community Naperville is."