Running laps for a good cause

Hayden Burthe sprinted through the last 30 seconds of his leg of California Elementary School's fundraiser and lay on the grass, but after pouring a bottle of water over his head, he hopped back up to celebrate the 35 laps he'd run.

He and his fifth-grade classmates were churning along for a reason.

"So we could get money [for the school] and so we could get pie in the face," said classmate Chris Abak, who ran 29 laps.

Donors had pledged money to the school's technology program for each lap the Costa Mesa students ran at their annual jog-a-thon Wednesday.

Chris was banking on them breaking the $25,000 mark, which would net them a prize: pie-ing their teachers.

Classes of students all across the yard circled small tracks painted on the grass, trying to earn that and other rewards.

If they reach $10,000, they win a Popsicle party. At $15,000, they get no homework for a week. And at $20,000 — what they raised last year — they get to drop their principal into a dunk tank.

"That'd be a good thing," Principal Matt Broesamle said. "I'm hoping for $20,000."

One kindergarten teacher, Vicki Clifford, was running her own fundraiser. On the heels of running the L.A. Marathon on Sunday, she ran laps around the smaller tracks that the students used.

For each revolution, she earned more pledge money for the school, and by 11 a.m., she was pushing 100 laps.

She's been doing her personal fundraiser for three years — running 100 laps to raise $850 the first year and 150 laps to raise $1,250 last year.

She was already pushing $1,300 to start the day Wednesday, Broesamle said, and parents continued to wander over and pledge more as she closed in on her 11:30 a.m. deadline.

"As a parent, I am inspired to have a teacher raise money for the school, as well as promote to kids how important it is to stay active and healthy," parent Jamie McLellan said in an email. "She leads by example."

Much of the money students and Clifford raise will go toward digital blackboards in classrooms.

"It's all for technology here," McLellan said.

Twitter: @jeremiahdobruck

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