Bushnell and Cherry Creek Elementary Schools Raise Money Through Annual Walk-a-Thon

Each fall for the past seven years students at Bushnell Elementary School and Cherry Creek Elementary School have sought pledges from friends and family to raise money for their schools.  The annual Bears (for Bushnell students) and Champs (for Cherry Creek students) on the Run event is put on by the schools’ PTO with 100% of the funds brought in being given directly to each school.

Months of Planning for a Week Filled with Events
The biggest event put on the Bushnell/CCE PTO happens each fall, but planning takes place throughout the year.  In the months leading up to the September date members of the PTO spend time securing donations from businesses and individuals.  Sponsorship is available in the form of a prize or a monetary donation to be used to purchase prizes, snacks, or pay for a special assembly each student participates in.  Several local businesses contribute in some way each year.

Each student has a goal of raising $25, which is how building goals are established.  For every $25 pledged, the student receives a ticket which can be used in raffle drawings.  Those who collect $100 or more receive golden tickets, which can be used for bigger ticket raffle items.  Raffle items include overnight stays in hotels, ripsticks, Kindles, iPads, gift certificates to establishments like Flat River Grill, Big Boiler Brewing, Meijer, R Athletics, Goldfish Swim School, and more.  

Although the actual walk/run takes place on a Friday, earlier in the week students are treated to some special things – all with a focus on eating and being healthy.  This year Bushnell principal Erin Walters and Cherry Creek principal Shelli Otten both danced on the roof of their respective buildings. Students cheered and danced from below while enjoying a healthy snack of pretzels and yogurt.  A different healthy snack of a cheese stick and apple slices was passed out during recess another day. As money is collected throughout the week leading up to the big day, daily prize drawings also take place.

The Big Day
Finally, Friday, September 21 arrived.  In the morning, Bushnell students took to a course in the field between their school and Lowell Middle School.  Each class had time to walk and/or run loops after getting a class photo taken by Nicki Videto Photography, who also snapped shots of activities throughout the day.  Middle school students helped cheer on the elementary kids, with some even dressing up like Minions.  Parents also lined parts of the course to encourage participants.

After each school’s walk-a-thon, every student participated in a special assembly.  The Lion Heart experience presentation was one of fun, humor, and learning about how words can make a difference.  The assembly involved teachers and kids, who were left with a positive message. One activity during the assembly at both schools was a competition between four teachers.  Each had to pop balloons passed to them by kids in the audience. Both schools were also left with a Lion Heart painting done by Joe Vercellino to remind students that they matter, even if they’re not always the first selected for sports, the most popular, or even the most noticed.  

Mr. Audia, fourth grade teacher at Cherry Creek, participates in the balloon popping competition.
Mrs. Kirkpatrick, second grade teacher at Cherry Creek, competes to pop the most balloons.










Following the Lion Heart presentation, overall individual and class winners were announced along with handing out lots of lots of prizes to students.  The top three fundraising students in each grade will be treated to lunch and some time jumping at Altitude next Friday. At Bushnell, Mrs. Kluge’s kindergarten class collected the most money.  At Cherry Creek, it was Mrs. Pulver’s second grade who took the honor. Both classes will participate in a painting and parfait treat sometime in October.

Photo courtesy of Cherry Creek Elementary.

Overall, students, teachers, principals, and staff at both elementary schools came out as winners.  Bushnell students raised a total of $10,184.94 and Cherry Creek brought in a record-setting $18,000.60!  These funds will be used by each school to pay for various things including field trip bussing, classroom enrichment items, Scholastic Readers, and more.  A challenge was laid out when the walk-a-thon was kicked off. If the school met its goal, the principal would have to kiss a farm animal. Both Mrs. Walters and Mrs. Otten made good on their promise (with Mr. Rickstad at Cherry Creek as a bonus participant), each applying lipstick before kissing a mini horse, to the delight of onlookers.  

Wrapping Up
The seventh annual Bears/Champs on the Run is in the books.  As sponsorship thank you notes and winning field trip and activities are scheduled, planners will debrief and look to preparation for next year’s event.  The following businesses provided sponsorship or donation at a silver ( $100+) or gold ($250+) level:


  • Canfield Plumbing
  • FitBody BootCamp
  • Grand Rapids Griffins
  • Henry Ford Museum
  • Impressions 5
  • Jen Conner-Realtor
  • Marathon
  • McDonalds
  • R-Athletics
  • Rebounderz
  • Rogers Real Estate
  • Showboat Automotive
  • The Lost City


  • Alliance Financial & Insurance
  • Altitude Trampoline Park
  • Anonymous
  • Bittersweet Ski Resort
  • Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Chartwells Food Service
  • Cindy’s Suds
  • Double Tree Hotels
  • Grand Rapids Gymnastics
  • Grand River Orthodontics
  • Heidi Christines
  • Klackle’s Orchards
  • Lowell Fire Department
  • Lowell School Athletics
  • Lowell Wrestling
  • Lowell’s First Look
  • Meijer
  • Officer Todd Summerhays
  • PFCU

All photos unless otherwise noted, courtesy of Nicki Videto Photography and used with permission.

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