More than 100 participants took part in the inaugural Families Helping Families Reindeer Run held Saturday morning at the Athena Consolidated School.
The event was the brainchild of Athena teachers and running partners Melissa Noonan-Gallant and Janice Carragher-Doyle.
The pair took part in a similar run — the Santa Claus Run — in Charlottetown two years ago organized by Carragher-Doyle’s nephews and thought a similar event should be held in the western part of the province.
But it wasn’t until this year that they could get it organized so, for the past two months, they have been working on the logistics of the event, gathering sponsors and encouraging those within the school’s community to participate.
“We can see the need within our community and thought it would be a really neat idea to get people out together before Christmas to help others,” said Noonan-Gallant “It’s a walk-run so anyone can participate. It’s fun and not a timed event.”
The goal was to have 100 participants who each would pay a $10 registration fee.
A total of $2,700 was raised and 150 participated in the event. Two city hockey teams alone raised more than $1,200.
Players and staff with the Summerside Western Capitals took part, donating $500 and also handed out tickets to Sunday’s game at Credit Union Place.
Another city hockey team, the Summerside bantam AAA boys, was on the five-kilometre course. That team, coached by Scott Bridges, collected $757 in donations prior to Saturday’s event.
“Their coach challenged them to try and raise $20 each and they obviously did that and more,” said Carragher-Doyle, Athena’s vice-principal. “Its pretty exciting stuff.”
Almost all staff members at the school were helping out on Saturday. Several students, including those in the junior high leadership program, were helping direct registrants and helping with the bake sale, which included a wide array of goodies baked by staff, parents and students.
The money raised will be used by staff to shop for less fortunate families this Christmas, most of which are within the Athena school community.
The money will help buy presents, hats, coats, mittens and food, all to make for a happy Christmas for these families.
Already, organizers are thinking about next year’s event.
“It’s about community helping community,” said Carragher-Doyle. “It’s all about helping each other at a beautiful time of year.”