Merchant's donation helps provide school with walking track

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Everett Elementary School in Lincoln now has a walking track, thanks to an active parent, a neighborhood association and a generous local merchant.

Parent Heidi Little and others raised about $5,000 through fundraisers for the $27,000 project, but were unsuccessful in getting grants to support the track's total cost.

Little then invited a local business owner to tour the school after meeting him to warn him about cones set up outside for a superhero fun run, the Lincoln Journal Star ( ) reported.

She said a fourth-grader in a wheelchair had stopped by while the store owner and a school psychologist were talking. The merchant offered to pay for the track after learning it would allow the girl to do something other than avoid the gravel playground.

"He said 'I'll pay for it. I'll do the walking track,'" Little recalled. She said she must have hugged him, or maybe kissed him on the cheek, but that she couldn't exactly remember.

Nearly 90 percent of the school's students are eligible for the federal free- and reduced-lunch program. Little established a nonprofit to host events, like the superhero fun run and haunted Halloween bus rides, since the school didn't have a parent-teacher organization.

She said she always wanted to do something about the playground.

"We've always had our minds set on that whole area, the playground is old and junky," Little said.

Everett Neighborhood Association President Pat Anderson-Sifuentez had gotten a grant more than two years ago for a program called Nature Explore to draw up blueprints for an outdoor classroom at the school, including the walking track. Anderson called a group together, the principal, after-school program supervisor, a city representative and Little, to talk about plans and they soon decided to start with the walking track.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star,

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