Kayla Jackson, 33, of Menomonie stood at the start line of the 12th annual Jeanne Richie Memorial Puddle Jump race Saturday with her 10-year-old daughter, Morgan. The Jacksons were eager to begin the 5K walk/run, which raises money for after-school programs at Longfellow Elementary School.
Kayla Jackson is a bus driver, and she wants to support the school system.
“It’s to support a good cause, and to run with my fellow workers,” she said. “And it’s to stay active.”
Her daughter was excited for the race to begin.
“I just like to run and be sporty and get my energy out,” Morgan Jackson said.
Race organizer Holly Larson said about 1,200 participants competed in the race Saturday, which began at Phoenix Park, then went east to Boyd Park, before finishing back where it started.
“This is a local nonprofit race,” Larson said. “It benefits our after-school programs and student scholarships for wellness activities.”
Wellness programs range from karate, music lessons, art classes and dance lessons, Larson said. The money also goes toward an annual scholarship for a Longfellow Elementary School alumni.
“Usually we make about $10,000 a year,” Larson said.
The race is named after the late Jeanne Richie, who named the race and was part of the original group that got it launched, Larson said.
“Jeanne always smiles on us every year, and we are so lucky to have so much community support,” Larson said.
Richie, a Longfellow kindergarten teacher, died in May 2010 from leukemia.
Reasons to run
Dan Moschkau, 45, of New Auburn ran nearly the entire race with his 3-year-old son, Calvin, riding on his shoulders.
“It was the only way I was going to get it done,” Moschkau said with a laugh. “He tried running in the middle, but after a tenth of a mile, he decided riding was more fun.”
Moschkau is a Delong Middle School teacher, and he said the district does a great job promoting the race.
“It’s a group-type activity,” he said.
Julia Eiden, 84, of Eau Claire said she and 20 of her friends from L.E. Phillips Senior Center in Eau Claire decided to participate. She didn’t anticipate any problems completing the 3.1-mile course.
“I used to do 10Ks all the time,” Eiden said.
Eiden said this is a good race to take part in.
“I love to walk. It’s so friendly, and it’s a nice way to raise money,” she said.
Becky Davis, the Chippewa Falls High School principal, also participated in the race.
“It’s a community pulling together to support people whose life’s work is about giving to children,” Davis said. “It’s a lot of school people — Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls — coming together.”
Sarah Ruhland, 31, of Hopkins, Minn., wore her “legacy shirt,” signifying she is a past winner of the race — she won it in 2012. Ruhland was a college roommate of Sally Richie, who is Jeanne Richie’s daughter. Ruhland said she has competed in the race numerous times.
“It’s a great cause first of all,” Ruhland said. “We know every penny goes to the school, and it’s a great way to remember Jeanne every year. It’s a low-key event, and there’s lots of people cheering along the way.”
Tim O’Reilly, Delong Middle School principal, is an experienced runner, but he always looks forward to this particular race.
“This run has an awesome turnout,” O’Reilly said. “It’s a great community event, and it brings out a big crowd. (The money) creates many opportunities for kids, so it’s just amazing. And it’s fun — everyone has smiles on their faces.”