SPRING HILL — One way for schools to raise money is for students to sell items such as candles, wrapping paper or cookie dough. Another way is to run around the gymnasium and learn about fitness and good character.
Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics chose the latter and recently held a Boosterthon.
Boosterthon is a fundraising company that currently operates in 27 states. The company sends representatives who not only encourage students to raise money by getting pledges for a run; they provide fitness and character lessons during a nine-day program.
The event was sponsored by the school's Parent-Teacher Organization, under the direction of president Brandy Figueroa.
"It was an opportunity for our kids to do something healthy, fun, without the parents having to purchase something tangible," Figueroa said. "Our students are excited. The character lessons are sticking."
Jordan Kauffman is the Tampa Bay area Boosterthon city leader. The program, he explained, begins with a pep rally and ends with the fun run. This year the theme is Camp High Five, and each day students were presented with two-minute Boost Fit Challenge exercise drills or nutrition tips and character lessons.
"We teach the students interactive character lessons, respecting others and showing sportsmanship," Kauffman said.
The company has been around for 12 years, helping schools raise money and receiving a percentage of the money collected.
The fun run is supposed to be an outdoor event, but the weather forced it indoors. The gymnasium was set up for running the laps for which students had collected pledges or donations. Those could be done online.
At the end of the program, fifth-grader Gianna Pontrelli, 11, shared what she got out of it.
"I learned that when you're on a team, you have to have good sportsmanship, whether you win or lose," she said.
She also felt a little inspired to exercise.
"I'm going to do 15 exercises every day," she said, suggesting those might be jumping jacks.
Said fifth-grader Victoria Kidd, 10: "I learned to stay fit. I did have fun with it because they didn't just tell us to do the exercises, they made it fun."
Fifth-grader Kelsey Kidd, 10, said, "Other than exercise, we learned about character, and you have to use teamwork or the team probably won't win and that winning isn't everything. You can still lose and celebrate."
She said she also learned "it's not nice to bully or be mean to people, and you can even bully online. It's good to help people, and by doing this we're helping our school raise money."
The PTO hasn't yet determined how much it collected or for what it will use the money. They want to give everyone who pledged time to pay up, Figueroa said, and the PTO board wants to meet to discuss it.