CORVALLIS - If Wednesday's midday pep rally was any indication, it's fairly safe to say that Corvallis students are fired up about the towns' new athletic facility.
Started in 2001 and completed in 2008, the Corvallis Community Events Center (CCEC) provides the small community with a football field, a soccer field, a top-notch track and field facility, an attractive grandstand, playground equipment and more.
But those things don't come free and the bills are still being paid on the new facility, though with the addition of more than a thousand little fundraisers, who knows what could happen.
"What better way to get the kids to buy into the facility that they have and can use, than to get them involved in the fundraising," said CCEC Foundation President Dan Wolsky. "It's their facility; their playground, their soccer fields, their track, their football field. It's the kids'.'"
A few months ago, Wolsky saw a news story about St. Joseph School in Missoula raising thousands of dollars through a Jog-A-Thon fundraiser.
He knew that something similar would work for the Corvallis community, if he could just get the kids excited about it.
On Wednesday, he did just that.
As sort of a fundraiser kickoff, hundreds of Corvallis students from kindergarten to high school packed the Corvallis High School gym dressed to the hilt in Montana Grizzlies gear and sporting gigantic foam "We're Number 1" fingers. As more and more classes filtered in to the rapidly filling bleacher seats, three energetic University of Montana cheerleaders worked the floor, getting students fired up and vocal as they battled to make their half of the gym the loudest.
Students were called down to the floor and pitted, boys against girls, in a chuckle-inducing relay race that sent them sprinting across the gym sporting wigs and pom-poms.
A group of six teachers was brought out to do battle in an intense game of limbo.
Students who had already turned in pledge sheets for the upcoming Jog-A-Thon had their names drawn from a hat for prizes like Grizzlies' footballs and gift certificates to Best Buy.
Between activities, Michelle McCue, a parent from St. Joseph School in Missoula who agreed to help Wolsky get things rolling, fired information at the students, asking them to get out there and collect pledges, giving them fundraising targets and reminding them of the highly desirable array of prizes they could win by meeting certain goals.
"We're trying to do something really exciting," said Wolsky. "We're making the prizes kind of out of the ordinary; something every kid wants. If a kid raises $1,000 they get a Wii or an Xbox 360 or an iPod Touch."
They're also incentivising the teachers to help push the fundraising drive (as if the limbo wasn't enough), he added.
"For every dollar that their class raises, they get 10 percent back to buy supplies," Wolsky said. "So, if a classroom makes $2,000 they get $200."
On its face, Wolsky said, the Jog-A-Thon is about helping to pay down the community's athletic facility, which is open to all youth, but, he added, once the CCEC is paid, the event could become an important student fundraiser for other student resources.
"Once we get that note paid off, we want to take this fundraiser and turn it back to the kids; let them decide where they want the money to go," he said. "We're just getting it started and I'd like it to be the first of many to come. The hard part is the first year, but once that's taken care of, hopefully, it should fall right into place like dominoes."
And though the day's centerpiece was supposed to be a visit from Grizzlies' mascot Monte, whose timely arrival was fouled by traffic, that excitement Wolsky was looking for was certainly manifested.
"It was awesome," he said. "We had some of the Griz cheerleaders and it worked out. We'll make it up to them."
The Jog-A-Thon takes place at the CCEC track next Wednesday, May 12 from 9 a.m. through 3 p.m.
For more information, contact Dan Wolsky at 381-2104.
Reporter Will Moss can be reached at 363-3300 or email@example.com.