Hundreds run, walk, stroll the Bill Gallagher Memorial 5K

Raindrops sprinkled the just-thawed ground as hundreds paced their way out and back on the 5K route mapped out on Anoka High School campus property April 6.

Some 700 run/walkers participated in the 13th annual Bill Gallagher Memorial 5K Fun Run/Walk for Literacy on April 6. Here, the runners make sure to obey the speed limit as they take the first turn on the rainy route along Anoka High School campus property.Photo by Sue Austreng

Some 700 run/walkers participated in the 13th annual Bill Gallagher Memorial 5K Fun Run/Walk for Literacy on April 6. Here, the runners make sure to obey the speed limit as they take the first turn on the rainy route along Anoka High School campus property.Photo by Sue Austreng

The event: the 13th annual Bill Gallagher Memorial 5K Fun Run/Walk for Literacy.

The participants: More than 700 young, old and in-between runners, walkers, strollers – and even a couple of four-legged participants.

The results: More than $11,000 raised to support literacy in Anoka-Hennepin schools.

A preK run was also included as part of the event this year and 20 of the littlest runners took part in that run.

“This fun event is about bringing parents, students and staff together to support health and literacy in our communities and schools,” said Tess DeGeest, executive director of the Anoka-Hennepin Educational Foundation (AHEF), which hosted the event.

According to DeGeest, all the money raised goes back to the schools and is used to promote literacy in ways specific to each school.

“The people in the schools determine how the money is best used there,” DeGeest said. “For many schools that will mean new books, e-books and/or online subscriptions for the media center. For others it might mean supporting a tutoring program, a summer reading program or other related projects.”

All of Anoka-Hennepin’s schools received funds raised during the event in proportion to the number of participants from that school, she said.

The funds are divided among the schools based on their per capita participation in the run/walk, DeGeest said.

The schools compete to see who has the highest per capita participation. Then, off the top, the elementary school with the highest per capita participation wins $1,000; highest per capita middle school wins $500 and highest per capita high school wins $500.

“The prize funding generates friendly competition within and across the schools,” said DeGeest.

By awarding the event proceeds this way, every school has a chance to compete – regardless of its size. This year the prize winners were Champlin Brooklyn Park Academy for Math and Environmental Science, Roosevelt Middle School and Champlin Park High School.

Children participating in this year’s Gallagher Memorial event all received a free book and all participants were eligible for prize drawings.

In past years, the run/walk has been staged at the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park. This year it was moved to Anoka High School in order to reduce event overhead costs.

“It ‘felt right’ to many of our volunteers and runners,” DeGeest said.

“We so appreciate the hospitality of Anoka High School students and staff, who were outstanding in their support of this district-wide event.”

Anoka High School teacher and head track coach Pete Tremaine “was wonderful to work with and had more than 20 JV boys’ and girls’ track team members helping out and cheering on our runners and walkers,” DeGeest said.

“It was just a great event.”

Sponsors of this year’s event were Allina Hospitals and Clinics (lead sponsor), Mike Orn (State Farm), United Educators Credit Union, Anoka Rotary Club, AKA Sport, Lanigan and Kolb and Rebyl Sports.

According to DeGeest, the 2013 sponsors were all sponsors in the past who renewed their support.

Next year’s Bill Gallagher Memorial 5K Fun Run/Walk for Literacy event will likely take place in April 2014, but the exact date and location have not been set.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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