The event raises funds for student programs throughout the year. Each student is asked to gather pledges before the Walkathon, and then on the 9th, all 1,100 students and staff from the four ‘houses’ of Cider Mill walk one mile (four laps) together at the Wilton High School track.
The Walkathon is a fun fall morning event, with students bundled in sweatshirts, balloons and banners raised, and tunes blaring. Hillary Morrissy, parent of a third-grader, is coordinating the music, but asked for input from families of students. Morrissy says top picks this year include Roar (Katy Perry), Best Song Ever (One Direction), and Cups (Anna Kendrick).
Cider Mill’s PTA runs the event, which last year raised $41,000. Lisa Smith, in her second year as President of the school’s PTA, explained that proceeds from 2012’s Walkathon not only went to programs such as Visiting Author, Fun Nights, and Field Days, but also funded grants for teachers, helping to support the science department, and sending more technology into classrooms.
Last year, 93% of students participated in the Walkathon by turning in pledge forms. In comparison, earlier fundraisers, e.g. selling wrapping paper, generated 35-40% participation rates. Pam Hickey, VP of Fundraising 2010-2012, decided to try something that would involve more students, and came up with the idea for the Walkathon.
This year’s VP of Fundraising, Nicola Davies, is carrying on the tradition.
“The event moved me to tears when I saw it for the first time last year. One thousand children having such a wonderful time singing and dancing around the track," said Davies in a release. "It is a rare and powerful thing when a whole community comes together like this. There was such positive energy on the track that morning. I'm so proud to be a part of it, and I can't wait to do it all again next year.”
Each year there is a special theme for the Walkathon, which this year is “Walking on Sunshine.” In previous years, the Student Advisory Council chose the t-shirt design. This year, the school held a contest in May and the winning design was chosen from those entries. Jenna Kirincich, a current fourth grader, was the big winner. Students who handed in their pledge forms by September 20 will each receive a free 2013 Walkathon t-shirt to wear at the event.
Support for the Walkathon comes from all over, including the Cider Mill administration. For instance, vice-principal Catherine O’Keefe wears the Walkathon t-shirt everyday on bus duty, and led t-shirt raffles at all the lunch shifts on September 18.
In the past, donations have come in from areas far from Wilton, including Florida, Virginia and Wisconsin. October 4 is the final deadline for turning in pledge money.
If you know a Cider Mill student, and would like to donate to the school, offer to pledge towards this year’s Walkathon.