Just one lap around the Bethlehem High School track on Sunday, Oct. 8, could mean the difference between restoring $52,000 worth of funding to three different school sports programs in the district.
The event is called Eagles Fly, and from 2 to 6 p.m., residents are encouraged to come out and walk one lap around the school track off Van Dyke Road. At the end of the lap, walkers can place a donation in the container with proceeds going to defray the cost of school athletic programs that suffered a blow in May when the first district budget in more than 20 years was turned down by voters.
"Every student deserves an equal chance in their athletic programs," said Beth Garbo, event organizer.
The Bethlehem school board cut funding to the high school's ice hockey, gymnastics and cheerleading programs after the budget defeat. The funding was never fully restored when the second budget passed in June, continuing the hardship for the many students who participate in these three sports.
"The Bethlehem community is very proud of its educational programs and truly shocked this had happened," said Garbo. "These students are Bethle-hem's pride."
Superintendent Les Loomis said he was sorry for the cuts and understands the parents' concerns.
"I know that it is painful," said Loomis. "One of our strengths is the great parents in the district, and I am grateful the parents' organizations have stepped up the way they have."
The ice hockey team needs to raise close to $40,000, and the cheerleading and gymnastics teams need to raise an additional $10,000 each.
"The only way we can raise this money is by fundraising," said Garbo. The ice hockey team has already raised $17,000, and Garbo said she believes the entire $52,000 can be raised at Sunday's event.
A media blitz will include newspaper, radio and TV advertising along with more than 5,000 fliers being distributed to every student in the district.