Matthew Turner Elementary school raised money for its Parent Teacher Association in early March by hosting a fitness-based fundraiser sponsored by Boosterthon, an agency that helps schools raise cash.

According to Andrew Kowalski, general manager of Boosterthon in Northern California, the school raised approximately $30,000.

“We exceeded our goals by quite a bit,” said Principal Stephen Slater, who didn’t want to confirm specific dollar amounts.

Boosterthon is part of the current trend in school fundraising that is a transition from selling products like candy bars, to wholly-interactive schoolwide events that raise money, according to Slater.

The company is national and based out of Atlanta, Ga.

The Boosterthon approach takes more than a week and revolves around a “fun run” where the kids are pledged cash for each lap they run, walk, or dance.

On the big day, DJs, parents, and perky Boosterthon staff are on hand to cheer on the kids.

“The kids were encouraged to just do their best,” said Slater, saying that all children could compete in a fitness challenge no matter their activity or fitness level.

“We always make accommodations for students,” Kowalski said. “Kids can go at their own pace with separate run times, or go on their own track, or they can use the blacktop or basketball court.”

Boosterthon showed up nine days before the event and held “character assemblies” every day where they encouraged kids to sharpen their leadership skills and build their self-esteem.

“They also spent time with the kids during recess,” said Slater, pointing out that the assemblies and interactions with the kids before the event were all about building character and having integrity.

Presentations were given to kids who had set goals and reached them, like Olympians and junior entrepreneurs, according to Kowalski.

And, of course, Boosterthon staff showed kids how to raise the most amount of money for the school.

Gone are the days of going door to door trying to raise money for school fundraisers. Now kids use computers and email to reach out to folks all over the country.

People could either pledge a child per lap or donate a flat amount, Kowalski said.

But the principal said that he would not have chosen to take part in this sort of fundraiser if he didn’t feel like the students were getting a lot out of it.

“The kids felt like they were the ones really doing it, and they were,” Slater said.

“They had an active role with their participation, not only with getting pledges but the actual event was so much fun. They just had a ball.”

The PTA has discretionary control over the money raised and will most likely spend it on things like technology for the school or nature camps, Slater said.

“It’s the new approach in fundraising,” Slater said. “Instead of selling stuff that’s not healthy for kids, like chocolate or cookie dough, this was just a healthy way to raise money for a good cause.”

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