by Julia Mikolajczak
On May 22, sixth-grade students at Edward Town Middle School participated in an unusual school assignment - they organized and took part in a walkathon to benefit a number of local charities.
Overall, the walkathon raised nearly $5,000.
Students went online to get background information on charities, and then picked one they felt deserved the money they would later raise. Each class narrowed it down to the single best charity that they would all support. The students wrote business letters and then collected pledges on their own time for the walkathon.
Students walked 16 laps around the Niagara-Wheatfield track for a total of about four miles. The purpose of the project was to give the kids a meaningful experience.
"It was more than just a school project," said teacher Jessica Miller, "It was a lifelong lesson."
Students shared similar enthusiasm.
"I felt like we needed to give back, because (the organizations) help make a child's day," said participating student Erin Wegrzyn.
It was clear that other students shared Wegrzyn's thoughts. Some students made crafts, such as duct tape pens, and sold them during lunch periods to raise additional money. Another student got an autographed photo of Sabres goalie Ryan Miller and sold raffle tickets, adding to the event's cash total.
"We're so proud of our students for going above and beyond," said teacher Laura Ponivas.
After the event, students went home tired, but with a great feeling of accomplishment.
"I felt really proud of myself after I finished all 16 laps, because my family raised a lot of money for me," said student Billy Scullion. Scullion personally raised more than $300 for his charity.
"It felt good, because I knew that we were helping people and saving lives with all the money raised," added student Gianna Quigliano.
Recipient charities for the event were: Steadfast Foundation, Humane Society, Make-A-Wish, Stay Strong Alyssa, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Save the Children, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Julia Mikolajczak is an eighth-grader at Edward Town Middle School.