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Sturgeon Comp braves wind, rain, for Walkathon

School raises $11,713 for Homeland Housing
2105 Walkathon 9023 km
LEADING THE FLOCK — Grade 10 student Seth Dale of Team Angry Birds was one of about a hundred Sturgeon Composite students to brave wind and rain May 19, 2022, for the inaugural Sturgeon Strides Walk-a-thon. The students raised $11,713 for Homeland Housing. KEVIN MA/St. Albert Gazette

This story was updated May 24 with additional information from Sarah Day

Sturgeon Composite students braved the storms of May last week to raise thousands of dollars for seniors housing.

About 100 Sturgeon Composite students took part in the inaugural Sturgeon Strides Walk-a-Thon May 19. The students raised $11,713 for Homeland Housing by attempting to tromp around the school’s outdoor track for nine hours straight.

Ponchos and umbrellas were abundant, as the event took place despite driving rains, wind gusts of up to 50 km/h, hailstorms, and even lightning (the last of which forced the walk indoors at about 4:30 p.m.). Students huddled under tents and wrangled blowing tarps as the PA system blasted cheery tunes such as Celebration by Kool & the Gang.

“We’re making history here today, guys!” teacher and event co-organizer Sarah Day told the crowd.

“It’s raining, we’re already a little chilly, but we’re out here because you guys have worked so hard with your donations.”

Walk for a cause

In an interview, Day said she and co-organizer Terresa Blonski had been tossing around the idea for a school-wide fundraiser similar to the Bellerose Bikeathon for several years as a way to raise student engagement and give back to the community.

Wanting to do something different, they decided to base Sturgeon Composite’s fundraiser around the school’s large running track. Funds from the walk went toward the purchase of an adaptive wheelchair bicycle (a bike with a wheelchair on the front) for Homeland Housing, which is a non-profit that builds affordable seniors housing in St. Albert and Sturgeon County.

“Our seniors hold such an important place in a lot of our families,” Day said, and some have seen their children and grandchildren pass through Sturgeon Composite.

While the school originally hoped to have seniors join the walk, Day said weather and track conditions meant the seniors had to watch it online.

The rain and wind did little to dampen the students’ spirits, some of whom chose to full-on sprint during the walkathon’s ceremonial opening lap. Many had unusual costumes, such as the yellow Ikea shirts worn by Team The Misfits, or the red Angry Birds costume sported by Grade 10 student Seth Dale.

Team Not a Cult dressed as the cast of Mario Kart (a video game that, appropriately enough, is something of a cult classic). Team member Mya Leeman said they were stuck for a name and went with “Not a Cult” since they aren’t a cult.

“We have a Luigi, a Mario, Princess Peach, Toad, and Yoshi,” Leeman said, each with their own customized cardboard box/car to wear as they strolled down the track.

Team String Beans had neither strings nor beans in their ensemble, although their transparent ponchos could be viewed as a sort of grocery-shelf packaging. Team member Zach Howdle, who was towing Carter LaFramboise in a wagon, said there was no particular logic behind their name.

“We’re going to try and walk all day and pull the wagon every lap,” he vowed.

Students also got to sing karaoke, hear a drum-line performance, and view a classic car show during the walkathon. Sponsors such as the Rotary Club of Morinville provided food and prizes. After the walk moved indoors, the students held a dance party with various snacks.

Leeman said she hopes to create some fun experiences (besides the rain) during the walk. She encouraged future Sturgeon Composite students to join future walkathons to get out of class, hang out with friends, and raise money for seniors housing.

“Our seniors are very important, and they should not be forgotten.”

Day said the school hopes to continue this walkathon next year with better weather, more teams, and 12 hours of walking.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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