900 Racers Ran With Ed, Raising $280,000 For Park City Education Foundation
900 racers dressed in tutus and other matching costumes set off to run for a big cause Saturday. The race - Running with Ed - almost broke their record despite fewer competitors.
Running with Ed, raised $280,000 this year - $30,000 past the goal they set and just $5,000 short of their record year in 2019.
After taking a break in 2020 because of the pandemic, the race around Park City schools - which is hosted by the Park City Education Foundation - held their annual event Saturday. Instead of the usual 1,500 racers, there were only 900.
Associate Director of Communications and Development for the foundation, Jen Billow said there were fewer people than normal, but with vaccinations ramping up in Summit County, there was some sort of return to normal during the race.
"We're lucky enough to be one of the first events to come back," Billow said. "And so I think people were ready to have fun. It was so fun to see all
these custom people on Main Street. I'm sure all the tourists were like, what the heck is going on. But you know, this is what we love about Park City, right? Is people love costumes; they love to meet a goal and then blow past that goal; and they love supporting our teachers and students."
In previous years donors could only give money to specific teams or racers, but this year anyone could donate to the general Running with Ed fund. Billow said this could be part of the reason they were able to fundraise so much money despite less racers.
She said they also blew past their goal with the help of large individual fundraisers like Christine Grenney. Grenney, who is also the chair of the Running with Ed Committee, broke the single person fundraising record, donating more than $22,000.
She said she has kids enrolled in the school district and that education is important to her.
"I think our teachers and students have surmounted every hurdle in the past year, and I'm just so proud of them more than ever," Grenney said. "So I support education, because it's important to our community, and it's important to my family."
Utah is the lowest funded education system in the country, with the second-lowest weighted pupil unit. Utah funds education through income taxes. Despite Park City being an affluent area, all taxes are sent to the state level and only 4% comes back to the school district. Billow said that’s not enough to support their needs.
That’s where the Education Foundation comes in, she said 100% funds raised stays in Park City.
"And it covers things like classroom grants, for instance," she said. "So every year teachers ask for funding for programs they want to try in their classroom, whether they're new or they've been done for several years. For instance, preschool is not covered by the state of Utah at all, so the Park City Education Foundation puts a large amount of funding into preschool. Things like all kinds of STEM programs, like the coding program, which starts in kindergarten in Park City School District, or the national award winning robotics program."
Billow said even though the race was last weekend, donations for Running with Ed will remain open through the week.