For decades, Tahlequah elementary students have been on the run to raise money for their schools.
On Jog-a-Thon day, the schedules and activities may vary at the schools but they all have one thing in common: students jogging as many laps as they can in their allotted time periods. Donors either pay a flat amount or a set an amount for each lap the student completes, e.g. a dollar per lap.
Sheila Clay, Greenwood Elementary School office manager, said she started working there 26 years ago and they were holding Jog-a-Thons before then.
"It's been at least 30 years. It's a big fundraiser and fun for the kids," she said.
Greenwood will have its Jog-a-Thon in October. Cherokee Elementary School held its event Thursday, and Heritage Elementary is set to run on Friday.
All grades at Cherokee Elementary School headed outside Thursday afternoon to take turns running, getting their faces painted, bouncing in the inflatables, and cooling down in the shade. Family members could attend to jog with their students or cheer them on.
"I think it's awesome to get our kids and parents out and active. It's fun," said Crystal Young, Cherokee Elementary School teacher.
Although hot and sweaty, most of the students were enjoying the time out of the classrooms.
"Jog-a-Thon is really fun and you can raise money for the school, and the school can buy items for students who need them," said Marissa Harrington, Cherokee Elementary School fifth-grader.
Marissa McCoy, CES principal, has participated in Jog-a-Thons for 10 years, and ran with the kids around the track Thursday. She emphasized that the Jog-a-Thon is just one of Cherokee's fundraisers, but it is the only drive that is schoolwide.
"It's our money supply for the year. We put it back into the school," she said.
Money raised can be used for transportation costs for field trips, school supplies, walkie-talkies, and surveillance cameras. McCoy hopes CES can follow in Greenwood's footsteps and install a shower, and a washer and dryer to be used by students in need.
"Our goal this year is $17,000. Hopefully we'll meet our goal; $5,500-6,000 comes from corporate sponsors, and the kiddos bring in the rest," said McCoy.
Students not only get the benefit of those items, but they can earn prizes. For CES students, depending on the amounts raised, they can get T-shirts, go fishing with a new rod, ride in a limo out to lunch, have a SkateHouse party, or design their own tennis shoes.
The parent teacher organizations have taken on planning of the fundraisers. Members are responsible for stocking concessions and making water available, coming up with additional activities, finding volunteers, and other tasks.
Volunteers help with food and drinks, facepainting, overseeing bounce houses, and counting laps for the students. At Cherokee, the lap counters make a mark on the student's paper wristband after each lap.
At Heritage, the Jog-a-Thon lasts all day, but the classes don't do activities together. Besides jogging, the students will have snacks, playground time, and games in the gym.
Clay said Greenwood often has different themes for the event. Some themes she recalled were superheroes, Star Wars, a color run, and a "mustache dash."
Those who wish to contribute to the elementary schools can contact the individual school's front office, or the TPS Board of Education.