A Dash to the Finish Line Brings More Than Just Cash

dash for cash 

Clockwise from top left: Ty Shoemaker, Sawyer Skiba, Sebastian Strickland, Jared Wallis, Annaleah Ernst, Rebecca Wheeler, and Daniel Ribbens

Nikiski's cross-country team and their coaches, Anna Widman and Justine Reece, needed to raise funds. The team is very small, with just 8 high school and 8 middle school students. That poses significant challenges in fundraising and the group had struggled in the past to just break even. Team members had asked to take on the challenge of a run to Kenai, and they decided to take the challenge a step further and create a fundraising event. The team named the event "Dash for Cash”. Runners collected their pledges. On Monday, September 13th, the high school team ran. Two parents provided aid stations every three miles with drinks and a few snacks. They made sure all the runners made it by and then drove ahead.

"It was a hot and beautiful day. I ran with my two newest runners who started at the beginning of the school year. They were not sure if they would make it. However, during the run, there was never a time they wanted to quit…not even to walk! We talked about running and school and looked forward to the next drink stops. We ran on the trails near the woods and occasionally on the far shoulder of the road. I called the girls group at mile 10 and they were laughing and running along. Two Nikiski teachers waited at mile 8 with water bottles. Teachers and students honked as we ran by!

The closer to our Forest Drive finish line we got the more excited we were. When the stoplight came into view we sprinted to the finish where (to my surprise) a small party was assembled with food, drinks, and cameras. The runners were beaming through their exhaustion! It was an empowering activity. The team sat in an empty lot where we stretched and had a picnic dinner.

Every cross-country runner that started ran the entire course (7 HS runners). One other Nikiski student surprised us and ran 10 miles with the team. Two parents ran along as well. The runners encouraged each other the whole way. What they did Monday was a huge accomplishment and they realized that."

-Coach Widman, Nikiski Cross-Country Team
Preliminary results indicate the "Dash for Cash” is the best fundraiser that the team has had in many years. Both coaches agree it marks a new tradition for Nikiski Cross-Country, and they hope to involve the whole community next year. "These are such important activities for our students and we can't afford to lose them. Parents and teachers really helped make this a special event in their lives. I am so proud of my team. They are the best!”, said Widman.