By TIM CLEVELAND
Since 2000, The Growing Place Preschool has been hosting an annual Trike-A-Thon, helping to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
People involved with the school know first hand the good that St. Jude does, as then-school administrator Wendy Avery and her family experienced every parent’s nightmare when their 15-year-old son Nick was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in 2005. The family knew exactly where to take him for treatment, going to St. Jude in Memphis, Tenn., and Nick seemed to be beating the disease, coming home in May 2006 10 pounds heavier than when he left, but succumbed to a subdural hematoma on Aug. 25, 2006.
The Growing Place has already been recognized by St. Jude for its effort to raise money for the hospital.
“They just used to have bike day for a fun day, then they decided why don’t we do this with a purpose,” said current school administrator Debby Daus. “In 2000 they started doing this for St. Jude Hospital, just to get sponsors. It’s worked well. To date, we’ve got about $29,000 collected from 2000.”
The children that go to the school receive a sponsorship amount to ride in the Trike-A-Thon. The event was offered March 10 for 4-year-olds (20 children in the morning and 13 in the afternoon) and March 11 for 3-year-olds (12 in the morning and eight in the afternoon), with a total of 53 children participating. The course was set up in the school’s gym, with stations such as a pizza and lemonade station, a car wash, a tent with library books in it, a bank, a fishing hole, a Rulli Brothers grocery store and a St. Jude Hospital station.
Children rode around and stopped at the various stations.
“They kind of ride around and just have fun,” Daus said. “Some will ride a little bit and then play a little bit.”
Susanna Clay’s 4-year-old daughter Gianna participated in the Trike-A-Thon. Susanna also volunteered at the event, manning the pizza and lemonade station.
“She goes to preschool here,” Susanna said. “The class was doing it. I think it’s adorable; I think it’s very cute.”