Helping Works

Helping Works by Anna Webb: Meridian’s Ponderosa Pacers hit road to raise money for new school track

Anna Webb.
Anna Webb.

Fitness-loving students and teachers at Ponderosa Elementary School in Meridian, known as the Ponderosa Pacers, have been running and walking in service to physical fitness. The group, under the leadership of physical education teacher Jennifer Stoor, has logged more than 40,000 miles during this school year alone, Stoor estimates. Some motivated students run/walk 12 miles in a single recess period, she said.

All those miles have resulted in the urgent need for a new track at the school. The Pacers have set a goal of raising $40,000 to build the track. The community has already stepped up to help. The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation kick-started the effort with a donation of $10,000. Mike Shuman, a local runner and running shoe store owner donated, as did Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd and other members of the community. With the help of their donors, the Pacers have raised about half of the money they need, said Stoor. She hopes to raise the money and begin construction on the new track this summer.

Stoor started the walk/run Pacers program in 2002 when Ponderosa opened its doors and the school administration was interested in creating a strong fitness program. The program grew each year, said Stoors. According to national standards set by the President’s Challenge fitness test, 45 percent of the students at the school qualify as “advanced” when it comes to fitness, said Stoor.

Her goal, along with building the new track, is to instill in students a love for physical health and movement that will last their entire lives.

“We’re tricking them into this feeling of how good it feels to move,” said Stoor. “Kids come to me every day, excited about reaching their goals. They make friends on the track. Bullying isn’t an issue on the track. The kids who lose weight feel good about themselves,” said Stoor. “It’s one recess, and it’s a life-changer.”

If all goes as planned and Ponderosa raises the money, the new track will have a quarter-mile of asphalt and will be 10 feet wide, or wide enough to accommodate walkers and runners of different ages and abilities. The new track will also be relocated to a place on the school grounds where it won’t be as vulnerable to pooling water and ice, which are issues on the existing track.

The Pacers will host a fun fitness event, the “Dream Mile,” at 9:15 a.m. June 2 at the school, 2950 N. Naomi Ave. in Meridian. One hundred and seventy-three students in grades K-5, or 29 percent of the student body, will participate. To qualify for the Dream Mile, boys need to run a mile under eight minutes, girls under nine minutes. The race is only open to students, but the event is open to the public.

The Ponderosa Pacers also welcome donations from the public. Make checks payable to Ponderosa Elementary with “Pacer track” on the memo line.

Contact teacher Jennifer Stoor at 283-8337 or for more information or to find out how you can help.

New fundraiser will raise money to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Yvonne and Ralph Perez, organizers of Betting on a Cure’s “A Night in Monte Carlo” fundraiser, plan to choose a different theme each year to help raise interest in their cause, fighting leukemia and lymphoma.

This year’s fundraiser, hosted by Indepth Solutions, corresponds with what would have been Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday. The event, from 7 to 11 p.m. June 4 at the Grove Hotel in Boise, will feature a Rat Pack Tribute with singers impersonating Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin. The Perezes and Betting on a Cure are offering a special price for Idaho Statesman readers: two tickets for $150 online with the promo code BODHILOVE.

Two other fundraisers are happening in conjunction with the fundraiser at The Grove:

•  The Avenger Corps Program: Volunteers sign up to be “Avengers” and collect donations from the community. Once they’ve collected $150 ($275 for a couple), they receive free tickets to the fundraiser.

•  The For-A-Day Program: Parents and grandparents bid on the opportunity for their children and grandchildren to job-shadow exciting professions for a day. The auction will take place June 30.

Get tickets for the June 4 fundraiser and details about the other programs online.

Questions? Contact Yvonne or Ralph Perez at 761-4341 or 761-4342.

Kids’ summer food programs get started across the Valley

Lots of kids rely on in-school food programs for nutritious meals throughout the school year. When school is out, they rely on programs provided by local nonprofits, schools and other partners. The Idaho Foodbank’s Picnic in the Park program operates Monday through Friday, June 8 through August 14. Twenty-five meal sites will be open in the Boise area. Find a full list online or call The Idaho Foodbank at 336-9643.

The Oasis Summer Feeding program serves free lunches for children ages 1-18 in 58 locations throughout Caldwell, Nampa, Parma, Emmett, Middleton, Wilder, Marsing and Melba. The program runs May 22 through Aug. 14. Find a list of sites online or call Oasis at 459-6000.

Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline recruiting volunteers

The Idaho hotline (1-800-273-TALK), is recruiting new volunteers to help with answering questions about the hotline at community events and distributing hotline brochures; giving presentations to community groups about the service; gathering resource referrals to local services, and more.

The hotline staff provides training for volunteers. The next round of classes will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 30. To learn more, call Nancy Pounds at 258-6994, email her at or visit the hotline website.

LEGOs. They’re not just for kids

After the success of its first building event for the adult set, Boise Public Library is announcing another evening of Bricks for Grownups. Come build again at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, in the Main Library’s Marion Bingham Room, 715 S. Capitol Blvd.

The library will supply materials, coffee and snacks. For more information, call 972-8255.