SYCAMORE – Tom Olmstead said financial hurdles shouldn’t keep anyone from attending Cornerstone Christian Academy.
That’s why the school’s students participated Wednesday in Laps for Learning, an event that raises money to assist those in need of tuition assistance. As of Wednesday morning, $25,000 was raised.
“It’s a great cause and they’re serving their neighbor,” said Olmstead, the school’s administrator and elementary school principal.
About 350 students, from preschool to 12th grade, ran, walked and skipped laps in a field next to the school while upbeat music played. Chandler Harnish, quarterback for the Northern Illinois University football team, was the event’s “leader of the pack” and helped kick things off with the fundraising drive in September.
Olmstead said it was the third annual event for Cornerstone Christian Academy. The first year $40,000 was raised; $20,000 was collected last year.
“It’s encouraging to us to see that kind of response,” Olmstead said.
If $25,000 was raised, an anonymous donor promised to match that amount, creating a $50,000 goal, Olmstead said. He said he believed that may have encouraged people to give because their donation could go further.
Students sought addresses of friends and family members, and letters were sent to those people, asking if they would donate and sponsor a lap for the student. Olmstead said donations were still coming in as of Wednesday.
“This kind of program allows them a little bit of help to stay,” said Julianna Ladas, the school’s sports booster director, of families who need financial assistance to have their children continue attending the school.
Harnish, presented with a shirt that read “leader of the pack,” congratulated students on reaching their goal.
“It’s just a cause I like to help out with and use my influence for God’s glory,” Harnish said of working with the school.
Olmstead said the physical lap running and walking incorporate a bit of the struggle that families face when trying to pay for their child’s education. By working to raise money, students served their friends and neighbors, he said.