A vibrant color run fundraiser extravaganza and an end of the year carnival celebration all have one end goal in common, to raise money for Rohnert Park and Cotati’s middle school athletics programs, which for the past 10 years has been supported by the Middle School Athletic Booster Club and its events such as the color run, which comes to Lawrence Jones Middle School May 4.
The color run is the club’s second annual fundraiser where the student body from Lawrence Jones will work to collect donations from family, friends and local businesses for their sports programs. And while participation in the actual color run is free, students are encouraged to try to raise as much money as they can. Various prizes will then be given out to the students depending on how much they are able to collect. For those who raise $10, a pair of sunglasses, color packet and t-shirt will be awarded. Those who raise $25 will get a $5 Toppings or Starbucks gift card, $50 will get a $10 In-n-Out gift card and $100 will get $20 in cash.
Tracy Arnbrister, current president of MSABC, says the color run fundraiser is an important event because it helps raise funds that make middle school sports in the Rohnert Park-Cotati Unified School District possible. Due to the 2008 recession, funding for middle school sports was hard to come by and much of the focus was turned to high school sports.
“The athletic booster is to raise money to keep middle school sports in our schools. We are a non-profit and are all parent volunteers. I joined in 2008 when the budget cuts were happening,” Arnbrister said. “In the past we’ve had a lot of fundraisers and we have to ask our community for help… While many of the daily expenses of offering an athletic program at our middle school are manageable within the parameters of our budget, we are limited to the amount of resources we have at our disposal,” Arnbrister said in a news release statement.
District-wide cuts led to a large decrease in funding that cut middle school sports and Mark Pippin, founder of MSABC, says he believes the sports offered at Technology and Lawrence Jones Middle School would not be in existence today without the booster club.
“There would definitely not be sports (if the club wasn’t there to help raise funds),” Pippin said. “The school district totally dropped sports, so the first year we brought back two sports and began to bring them back incrementally.”
That is why events like the May 4 color run are vital to the sports program’s success, which offers soccer, basketball, track and wrestling, just to name a few. The color run fundraiser will also be responsible for raising much needed funds for sports supplies, such as equipment, uniforms and transportation, items that can be very costly to keep on hand. Arnbrister says they usually have a budget and goal of $30,000 and so far, have raised around $10,000. Arnbrister is also helping to recruit local community sponsors for the event, where businesses can pay $100 for a unique sign that will be displayed certain times throughout the year at their business or home, declaring that they are a helpful donor.
However, for Pippin, the club’s role is much more than just to raise money, it is to ensure that kids have a safe and fun activity to participate in after school.
“The reason I’m adamant about the sports program is because it keeps kids safe after school, it gives them a safe place to be after school for a few hours until their parents get there and that is something that is very important, and it is a feeder program to the high school,” Pippin said.
Patricia Morphew, a middle school sports coach who is involved with the club echoed Pippin’s thoughts, saying the sports and events such as the color run are exciting for the kids.
“My son and daughter played sports, so I am really passionate about sports and keeping it. It gives them something to do, keeps them off the streets and is something to do here that is fun,” Morphew said.
Arnbrister also mentioned that sports are important since it also helps build teamwork and keeps kids active.
In addition to the activity and exercise the color run will provide, students at Lawrence Jones and Technology Middle School (on a later date, May 11), students will be given an end of the year carnival celebration with interactive games, prizes and food. The booths will also serve as a fundraiser and will cost $1or $2 per item depending on the booth’s games or food provided. However, there will also be free games and events so all children can participate.
“Everyone has had a hard year, they’ve been directly or indirectly affected by the fires and deserve a bit of fun,” Arnbrister said.
For more information on the color run, carnival or to make a donation or to become a booster volunteer, contact Tracy Arnbrister at 707-703-6777 or visit, http://ljms-crpusd.org. Tickets for the carnival will be pre-sold the week of the carnival, April 30-May 3 at lunchtime on the LJMS campus.