Fundraiser is on track and online

Though the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation’s Annual Jog-a-Thon entered its 14th year of raising funds for local schools on Wednesday, it finally reached the 21st century as its fundraising drive went online for the first time ever.

Students at Paradise Canyon, Palm Crest and La Cañada Elementary schools spent 20 minutes of their P.E. classes jogging. Their supporters could make donations for each lap run, or as a lump sum.

The Jog-a-Thon’s online presence is the brainchild of Steve Preiss, a member of the foundation’s board.

“I thought this would be a good chance of maybe bringing the Jog-a-Thon into the modern world of online websites,” said Preiss. “In the past, it’s all been paper envelopes and a lot of paper going back and forth.”

LCEF was hoping to match last year’s success, when the elementary schools’ Jog-a-Thon raised a record $230,000. An additional Jog-a-Thon involving the middle school students at La Cañada High School is held in January.

Preiss said that the new online system made it hard to compare the years, but he thought the online donation capabilities held untapped possibilities.

“We’re definitely doing well, and right now we think we’re on pace from last year,” said Preiss. “Our information now, it’s phenomenal. You can go to the website and see exactly where we are, you can see who gave, and all that.”

Lindsay McGregor, executive director of the foundation, said that the new system is an important addition, because the Jog-a-Thon is, along with the organization’s annual gala, one of its two largest events each year and represents a crucial source of foundation funding. Money raised goes toward supporting programs like class-size reduction, college counseling, and funding art, music and drama course work, as well as a variety of other initiatives.

But it also has benefits outside the classroom. McGregor said the Jog-a-Thon has brought together parents and students.

“We really strive for 100% participation of all of our school families,” said McGregor. “And this is a great event for us to get a lot of families involved. We get a lot of parents out volunteering that day, so it just kind of helps bring people together.”

While there were plenty of kids out on the track on Wednesday morning, Preiss said there was still work to be done to get participants to embrace the new online donation system.

“The funny part is, to be truthful, I don’t think people are taking advantage of what it could be to do online,” Preiss said. “It’s always nerve-wracking, going to a new technology. People don’t adapt, or they like the old way — there’s always something wrong.”

Preiss said that the foundation is still receiving many donations via check, and that students hadn’t filled out their donation pages with photos as he had hoped they would, but the foundation is committed to the new system.

“There is no going back, that is for sure,” said Preiss. “It’s just a function, we can make it better, whether that means making it more user-friendly or people get more comfortable with it.”

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