Panther Foundation 5K, carnival goes on despite rain

Attendance was down for the Panther Foundation’s third annual 5K and family carnival fundraiser at Spring Lake Park High School, but those who did brave the rain Oct. 5 were full of energy, ready to kick off Homecoming week 2013.

And they’re off! Nearly 200 runners and walkers braved the dreary weather to raise money for the Panther Foundation. Photos by Olivia Koester

And they’re off! Nearly 200 runners and walkers braved the dreary weather to raise money for the Panther Foundation. Photos by Olivia Koester

Approximately 500 people – attendees and volunteers – came together to raise $14,000 for the foundation, to support District 16 students’ education.

Small children had the opportunity to participate in the first Panther Run.

“You would never go to a zoo and chase a panther, would you?” asked Dean Downs, physical education teacher at Park Terrace Elementary School, as he led warm-ups for the kids. He reminded participants that the cheetah is the fastest animal, but the panther is right up there, daring them to catch the mascot.

The Panther got a nice head start, but children overtook it in just one lap around the gymnasium.

“The Panther needs a little breath,” Downs said as the mascot slowed to a walk.

After the kids had their race, it was time for the adults and older children to begin their jaunt around the school in either a 5K or 2K race.

Superintendent Jeff Ronneberg led the 5K participants on his bicycle.

Negus Negash took first in the adult men’s bracket. David Wuggazer and Richard Sill followed.

Kelsey Dieterman was the first adult woman to cross the finish line, followed by Karin Warner and Marcella Ononiwu.

For men 17 and under, Luke Elsesser holds the top honor. Logan York and Isaac Ononiwu came in second and third, respectively.

Anna Hutton won the race for women 17 and under. Macie McNiff and Miah McNiff came in next.

The carnival ran from 9 a.m. to noon. Tattoos, inflatable bouncers, sandy candy and more entertained the kids.

“It’s our fort now,” said Ben Deen, a student at Northpoint Elementary, to his mother when he emerged from a giant inflatable caterpillar.

In addition to the foundation and the district, Allina Health-Unity Hospital, Hoffman Weber Construction and Northwestern Mutual-Chris Hasling were major sponsors of the event.

Olivia Koester is at olivia.koester@ecm-inc.com

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