Eleven year-old Beth Pyles has taken on a task not many kids her age would.
She has organized a one-mile run for Alice’s Kids, a new local charity that benefits kids in need. The family-friendly event is the first official fundraiser for the charity and will take place Saturday morning at Riverside Estates.
Beth, a fifth-grade student at Riverside Elementary, decided to organize a fun run after she and her mother trained for and ran the Turkey Trot 5K at Mount Vernon High School last year.
“I didn’t see a lot of kids,” Beth recalled.
Since most kids can walk or run a mile in gym class, Beth figured that a one-mile run would be a great way to raise money for Alice’s Kids. Beth and her mother, Suzanne, met with Alice’s Kids director Ron Fitzsimmons (a Patch columnist) to discuss the idea of a fundraiser.
“This turned out to be a perfect fit,” Suzanne said. “Beth’s elementary school is a Title One school, meaning more than half of the student population lives below poverty level. Beth knows what Ron is describing and has seen it in her school.”
“Alice’s Kids is a brand-new charity that just started, so no one’s done any fundraising to raise money for them,” Beth explained. “I see a lot of kids like that and see how it affects them and I get really sad. I want to do something to help.”
When Beth initially brought up the idea of a fundraiser to her mother, she was skeptical at first.
“I hate to admit that I fought her on this, but I knew how much hard work it was going to be to pull this off,” Suzanne said. “Even with her at the helm, it will be a lot of work for me. In the end I knew it was a lesson worth teaching, so my heart won out over my head and I relented.”
With the help of her mother, Beth put in a lot of hard work to prepare for a neighborhood fundraiser. She gave a presentation at the Riverside Estates Civic Association meeting to gain support and permission to host the fun run.
“I had to tell them all about Alice’s Kids and when the race is going to be,” said Beth. “My mom was so proud of me we went to 7-Eleven afterwards and got Slurpees.”
Beth also had to go door-to-door with her mother in order to obtain signatures for a road permit from the police department.
“Going door to door is so challenging,” Beth said. “It took five days!”
This week, Beth wrote and performed a skit about the fundraiser on WRES, her school’s closed-circuit morning announcements show. So far, Beth has received $150 in donations for Alice’s Kids.
“It wouldn’t have happened without Beth,” Fitzsimmons said. “We’ve been meeting with her for months, she has circulated a petition throughout the neighborhood, she’s been talking to her friends at school. She’s a dynamo and we owe her a great deal of thanks.”
Both Suzanne and Beth have learned valuable lessons from organizing a community fundraiser.
“She has a better understanding of all the hard work it takes to put together a fundraiser,” Suzanne said. ”And I learned that nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.”
As for Beth, she has big plans in mind for Saturday.
“I plan on running and beating all the boys in my class,” Beth said.
The one-mile fun run takes place this Saturday, May 5at 8 a.m. at the south entrance to Riverside Estates at 3403 Battersea Lane. Registration in the form of a $10 donation per person begins at 7 a.m. There will be live entertainment by James Rubush and warm-up exercises by yoga instructor Victoria Gravini.
Full Disclosure: Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of Alice's Kids, is also a columnist for Mount Vernon Patch.