Community runs, walks for literacy

Staff Writer
Since 2013, I have primarily covered the Anoka-Hennepin and Spring Lake Park school districts as well as the city of Spring Lake Park for ABC Newspapers.

It was a beautiful morning at Anoka High School April 8 for the Anoka-Hennepin Educational Foundation’s 16th annual Bill Gallagher 5K Fun Run/Walk for Literacy.

Ren Riga runs with her son Alex Riga, 4, in the toddler and preschooler race prior to the Bill Gallagher Memorial 5K Fun Run/Walk for Literacy. Photos by Olivia Alveshere
Ren Riga runs with her son Alex Riga, 4, in the toddler and preschooler race prior to the Bill Gallagher Memorial 5K Fun Run/Walk for Literacy. Photos by Olivia Alveshere

Five hundred runners and walkers participated to raise more than $7,500 to support literacy in Anoka-Hennepin schools.

Schools with the highest per capita participation took home $500 prizes. Anoka’s Lincoln Elementary School for the Arts had the most participants at the elementary level, Champlin’s Jackson Middle School had the most runners and walkers of the district’s six middle schools and Champlin Park High School was the most well represented of high schools.

With the second and third highest participation of elementary schools, Champlin Brooklyn Park Academy and Blaine’s Madison Elementary each won $250.

All students left with a free book.

Before the 5K commenced, a toddler and preschool race left little ones panting.

Then, a first for the event, a school mascot run saw nine mascots find their way to the finish line. Three eagles flapped their wings, and the Anoka High School Tornado spun around in circles, bouncing from curb to curb in front of the high school. The Jackson Middle School Jaguar ran straight for the finish line and was the first to finish.

Sponsors included Allina Health – Mercy Unity Hospitals, AKA Sport, Medica, United Educators Credit Union, Jam Hops, Fifth Avenue Dental, State Farm (Mike Orn), Anoka Kiwanis, Anoka Rotary, Twin Cities Orthopedics and Velocity Sports Performance.

“These sponsors, along with great volunteer support from the Anoka High School track team and U.S. Army recruiters from Blaine, make this community event possible and bring so much fun to the day because they also donate prizes for the participant drawings and bring give-aways for our runners and walkers,” said Ann Sievers, chairperson of the AHEF Board of Directors. “It’s such a fun day for all of us.”

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Mascots from nine Anoka-Hennepin schools participated in the Anoka-Hennepin Educational Foundation’s first ever mascot race. The Jackson Middle School Jaguar was victorious. Anthony Plotz, 4, picks out a free book at the Bill Gallager Memorial 5K Fun Run/Walk for Literacy April 8. The Andover Husky mascot fist bumps the Burgard brothers, John, 4, and Will, 2. Lincoln Elementary School for the Arts supporters get ready to run. Charlotte Madsen, 2, high fives the Andover High School Husky mascot. Participants in the 16th annual AHEF Bill Gallagher Memorial 5K Fun Run/Walk for Literacy are off and running.
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Mascots from nine Anoka-Hennepin schools participated in the Anoka-Hennepin Educational Foundation’s first ever mascot race. The Jackson Middle School Jaguar was victorious.