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Running towards success

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Kindergartner, Halle Reuter, a student at St. Henry's Catholic school in Perham, enjoyed the morning ride on Arvig trail while raising money for her school. (Kim Brasel / Perham Focus).2 / 4
Two hundred students from St. Paul's Lutheran School and St. Henry's Catholic School in Perham participated in the Marathon for Nonpublic Education fundraiser at Arvig Park on Saturday. (Kim Brasel / Perham Focus ).3 / 4
Students could walk, run or bike and many parents took part to encourage their kids along the way during the fundraiser on Saturday. (Kim Brasel / Perham Focus).4 / 4

Fundraising usually doesn't look like this much fun, but combine a beautiful fall Saturday morning and around 200 kids with enough energy to power Otter Tail county and you have yourself the right ingredients to raise some money for St. Paul and St. Henry's schools.

Jason Smith, Principal at St. Henry's Catholic school in Perham, said this is the 38th year the school has participated in the "Marathon for Nonpublic Education," but that statewide the marathon has been going on since the early 1970s.

"All the money goes directly for field trips, bussing, electronics, physical education equipment—anything that directly benefits the students," Smith said.

He added that even though it's a simple fundraiser, it's highly successful for a school of a little over 100 kids.

Kids in preschool through sixth grade walked, biked, scootered, and ran around the Arvig park trail on Saturday, they did at least one lap, but could do as many as their energy (or parents) would allow.

The first marathon was held in the Twin Cities with over 1,200 participants raising money for non public education. Due to its success, it became an annual event, and the Minnesota Marathon for Nonpublic Education, Inc. was formed, with the first Saturday of October set as the official date for the statewide annual Marathon.

The Knights of Columbus became an official sponsor in 1974, and the local chapter helps out along the trail, manning check-points and handing out chips and drinks at the end.

St. Paul's Lutheran School joined the marathon about 10-15 years ago and principal Jolene Wagner said like St. Henry's, all the money goes to activities for the students.

"We like to take care of things like field trips, the above and beyond activities so the kids don't have to pay for it," she said.

Wagner recalls watching and cheering the students on last year, and just when she thought some were on their last leg, she said, they got a second wind and were up and going again.

Todd Steeke's boys rode their bikes to raise money. His oldest son, Gary, did four laps around Arvig park and his middle son, John, did three, with energy to spare.

"This is a good way to raise money for the school because it gets the kids outside and exercising and also we use it as a way for them to learn how to talk to people," Steeke said. "We have the boys go ask for the pledges and explain the event and how the school uses the money for field trips and other things."

Wagner feels this is a great fundraiser for several reasons.

"You have students and families coming together, the commitment on the part of parents and the added benefit of working together with St. Henry's," she said. "I appreciate we get to participate in this with them."