The kids might not have known running could be as much fun as it was on a rainy Saturday morning at Gilpin-Leechburg Park.
More than 100 Leechburg elementary school students and adults raised money and made history as they took part in the inaugural David Leech Elementary Color Fun Run.
The event involved running a short course in which four laps equaled one mile on paved paths in the park.
Running, that is, while volunteers at some 20 “paint stations” blasted participants with colored powder made of corn starch and food-grade coloring that turned people into moving, human rainbows.
The kids loved it, and the parents didn’t have to worry because the colors easily wash off.
In some cases, the rain took care of it on the spot.
Credit for the imaginative fundraiser goes to first-year PTA president Brandy Speiring, who said the color blasting is done at 5K runs nationwide. So, she brought it up to board members last August who agreed to the idea.
“Other schools were doing it in our area and it seemed like a great fundraiser, so we just ran with it,” Speiring said while taking shelter from the rain Saturday morning. “There is a company called Color Blaze, and they sell this powder in bulk and you can purchase it and use it so that’s what we did. The kids are going lap after lap, so they must be having fun. So many dads are out there with their kids and moms. And we have some teachers here that are participating.”
One of those Leechburg teachers was Blake Davis, 28, Kittanning, who was a multi-colored mess after several of his students enjoyed the rare privilege of blasting him with the powder.
“I underestimated how many kids wanted to hit me with the color,” Davis said, catching his breath. “So I was just getting hit left and right on the run. And then kids were just dumping bags on me throughout the entirety.”
Tyler Sanders, 8, of Leechburg, admitted to employing the tactic of boxing out Davis during the run.
“It was good. I took a short cut.” Tyler said.
Aurora Wechta, 6, of Leechburg enjoyed sporting her colorful appearance.
“Yeah,” she said. “I’m going to keep it.”
Her mother, Destiny Bennett, 24, disagreed. “We’re going to wash it out as soon as she gets home.”
Speiring said they exceeded their of fundraising goal. At last count, early Saturday afternoon, the event had raised $7,000 through support from community business sponsors and pledges gathered by students.
The kids in the top earning grade were set to receive a grand prize of an extra hour of recess — with snacks thrown in.
“It’s amazing because we’ve added so many more activities back into the school year post-covid. These funds have us caught up from lack of fundraising through covid and everything else,” Speiring said. “This event sees to that. And then hopefully next year, it gets bigger.
“And then this will be the only fundraiser we’ll ever have to do.”