When Parkside Elementary School physical education teacher Jeff Thummel first tells his students they’re going to jog for 30 minutes straight, most of the kids say they don’t think they can do it.
But year after year, with three weeks of training and support in their P.E. class, over half of Parkside’s elementary students are able to complete the 30-minute jog for the school’s annual Jog-A-Thon. Most of the other half are able to complete it with a mix of jogging and walking.
“I’m proud of the program and I’m proud of what it teaches kids,” Thummel said in an interview with a Chronicle reporter this week. “Our very first jog that we practice is a five-minute jog, that’s it. And then we build over the three weeks, and by the time the Jog-A-Thon hits, they’re in good enough shape mentally and physically that over half jog the whole way.”
This year’s Jog-A-Thon, which took place at the elementary school in Tenino on Friday, May 26, marked the event’s 30th anniversary.
The program was started by former Parkside employee Jeff Johnson, who currently works as the athletic director at W.F. West High School. He started the event in 1993 as a fundraiser for the school.
Johnson ran the program for its first three years before passing it on to Thummel in the 1996-1997 school year.
The event is the only major fundraiser Parkside Elementary holds during the school year, with all profits going into the school’s ASB fund.
“That funds … anything whole-school,” Thummel explained, citing school assemblies, field trips, playground equipment and the school’s climbing wall as examples of things ASB funds have covered in the past. “This is a fundraiser that promotes fitness. And it’s the only one we do, so we don’t have to go out to parents every two months.”
All students who participate receive juice and pens regardless of how much money they raise, but students who raise $25 or more get a T-shirt and students who raise $100 or more get lunch from Subway with Thummel.
Thummel added the Subway lunch prize to the Jog-A-Thon in 2008 and it was an “instant success,” he said.
From 1997 to 2022, the Jog-A-Thon has raised Parkside Elementary a total of $263,707.
The 2022 Jog-A-Thon alone raised Parkside elementary $20,089 — the highest amount ever raised by the event in a single year.
While the event is a valuable fundraiser for the school, Thummel stresses to his P.E. students that it’s not all about the money.
“It’s posted in my gym: the three reasons we do it are, number one is fun, number two is exercise, and number three is it is a fundraiser,” he said.
The longevity and success of the Jog-A-Thon is largely due to the support of Parkside Elementary Principal Brock Williams, as well as the support of Parkside staff and the Tenino community, Thummel said.
He also thanked Tom Alderson and Awards West Printwares, which creates the T-shirts for the event each year.
For more information on Parkside Elementary School, visit https://www.teninosd.org/o/parkside-elementary.