The run is done! East area after-schoolers complete virtual trek to Key West

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 19, 2009

By Susan Shinn
Wondering what the weather’s like in Key West? Just ask the students in the East Rowan Y afterschool programs at Granite Quarry, Faith, Rockwell, Morgan and Shive elementary schools.
All of the programs ó which now have about 100 kids altogether ó completed the Run to Key West program.
They didn’t actually make the 913-mile trek, but they did keep up with their mileage as they ran every afternoon after school.
At least some of them did.
Jared George’s eyes got huge during the celebration party on Thursday afternoon at Faith Elementary.
“I did not know I ran that far,” said Jared, who loves to run.
Run they did. The program began in October, with visits to each site by East Y staffers.
East High School students Seth Henley and Nicolle Bradway lead the Faith site.
“I love my counselors,” Zander said. “They lead by example.”
Counselors tallied the children’s individual mileage. Since Morgan is a big school, their students made it to Key West ó and back.
The program’s focus was just to get the kids moving more, said Sarah Zander, the East Y’s family services director.
“It’s also a lot of teambuilding,” Zander said Thursday.
David Freeze, property manager at the East Y and a member of the Salisbury-Rowan Runners Club, also visited the sites to lead the children in stretching, running laps and relay races.
Freeze returned to Faith on Thursday, and led the kids through their stretching routine and few fun relays.
The students prided themselves on how quickly they could run.
“Do you think I’m fast?” one boy asked Zander.
“How ’bout me?” another piped up. “Am I fast?”
“You guys are all fast!” Zander said. “You’re faster now than you were before.”
Then it was time to party.
Danielle Holliday of Key West, Fla., saw the Post’s first article about the program online. She was able to contact Freeze, and the two of them made plans for a celebration to include items from Key West. Nearly a dozen merchants in the Key West Attractions Association sent items for the children.
Last week, children at every site received a goody bag chock full of cool stuff: Key Lime cookies, stickers, magnets, Mardi Gras beads, brochures, bookmarks and more.
“They adopted you guys for being runners and you did a good job,” Zander said. “They’re rewarding you for being runners.”
The kids even got postcards to write home to their parents about their virtual trip to the Keys.
Freeze showed off posters of Key West so the children could get a better idea of the faraway island town.
“I like it!” Tori Cokeley said of her treat bag.
Danielle Arlotta said her favorite part of the running program was participating in the Indian Relay.
“We used to just run laps,” Danielle said.
Both Saharrah Thomas and Caroline Dean felt confident they could complete the run.
Freeze credited Holliday for making the celebrations possible. Each site made large thank-you cards signed by every child.
“Hopefully next year, we can do the same thing for them,” Freeze said.