By Erin McLaughlin
Almost 200 runners took their places at the starting line of Paul VI’s 15th annual Runfest 5K on Sept. 14. Coordinated and overseen by the cross country team, proceeds from the race benefit the Options program, as well as the cross country team, typically raising between $10,000-$11,000 annually. “Runfest is one of Paul VI’s biggest fundraisers,” according to Coach Jeff Fanale, Paul VI Cross Country coach.
“The Options program provides an award winning inclusive Catholic education to high school students with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. The goals of the program are academic achievement, the development of self-determination and advocacy, work experience and skills for life,” says Mrs. Chris Desmarais, director of the Options Program,
“The Options program strengthens the students’ communication and interpersonal relationships by integrating them into the complete high school community.” The funds raised by Runfest and other fundraisers throughout the year go to improve the Options classrooms and purchase tools that help to better teach the students.
“Obtaining sponsors for Runfest was a very labor-intensive job,” says Coach Fanale, who also teaches history. “We procured dozens of great sponsors, and it was all due to the tireless dedication of the great cross country and Options parents.
“I can’t begin to tell you how many letters, emails and phone calls were made to get sponsorships, but the parents did an incredible job, and their efforts helped make Runfest a success,” Fanale says.
For some attendees for whom running really isn’t their strong suit, they came to support the runners. Members of the cross country team were course marshals at landmarks where the course turned or at different mile-markers. Options students manned the water station.
“The best part of Runfest, to me, is the whole experience,” says Fanale. “While the race is exciting, it’s only one facet of the event. The whole event is truly reflective of the supportive and close-knit environment that we have here at PVI.”
“There’s good food and drinks, a 50/50 raffle, and great music,” he says. “It’s a great way for the students, parents, and faculty to connect and have a great time! People come for the race, but they stay for the great time afterwards.”