Edgeworth students participate in Laps for Love to benefit The Children’s Institute

Friday, February 28, 2020 | 11:01 PM

First-graders at Edgeworth Elementary ran their hearts out inside the school gymnasium.

With rosy cheeks and arms flailing, the more than 60 students quickly made their way around the exterior of the room for a good cause.

For 27 years, Edgeworth Elementary has hosted “Laps for Love,” a fundraiser for The Children’s Institute. Over the decades, kids at the school have raised more than $90,000 to help fund services, procedures or equipment for families who can’t afford it.

“This is such a longstanding tradition at Edgeworth. It’s an opportunity for our kids to give back to our community and it’s such a great opportunity for them to really be able to understand different disabilities and then raise money for a good cause,” Principal Carol Sprinker said.

“Laps for Love” was started in 1993 by then first-grade teacher Kim Wolfendale, who retired in the last few years.

“We wanted to keep the spirit alive and it’s also a great service-learning project for the kids,” first-grade teacher Lisa Johnston said.

During the week of Feb. 17, students learned about various disabilities from their teachers.

Johnston talked about sign language and “what it might feel like to not be able to hear,” she said.

Students practiced sign language in the class.

Another teacher taught them about kids who are blind and showed them how to write in braille.

A third teacher talked about physical disabilities.

“We’ve also found that it just really helps the kids to build an appreciation and acceptance for everyone,” Johnston said. “Just because someone might speak or act or look a different way than you do, we’re all the same, we’re all friends, and we can all do something special in our own way.”

Representatives from The Children’s Institute perform a puppet show for the kids where they talk about various disabilities.

Kids then are tasked with writing a letter about what they learned. The letters are sent to grandparents and aunts — or other sponsors who parents identify.

In recent years, the fundraiser has brought in about $5,000 a year, Johnston said.

Donation checks are just starting to come in and will be tallied in April.

On Feb. 26, the kids partook in the actual running of laps around the school gymnasium.

“We tell the kids that with this piece of it, we are celebrating that we are happy to have healthy bodies and we can use our bodies to help others,” Johnston said.

The gymnasium was filled with energy and lots of smiles, as kids cheered each other on. They couldn’t wait for their chance to run.

First-grader Martina Osofsky, 6, understood the importance of the fundraiser.

“We’re running for The Children’s Institute, to get them all of the equipment they need,” she said. “Some people can’t see so they have to use braille dots and people need special equipment because some people might not be able to do things that we can do.”

Martina said she was having fun running and she understood that it was all for a good cause.

“I just like to run and it’s really fun,” she said.