For its second annual 5K Run/Walk fundraiser to be held this month, the Vail Ranch Middle School PTSA is honoring the school’s late assistant principal, Shelly Graesser, who was killed last spring in a tractor accident at her family’s berry farm.
The Vail Ranch Middle School 5K Run/Walk is at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 33340 Camino Piedro Rojo in Temecula.
The event will feature food, vendors and awards for top age-group finishers. Families and kids are welcome.
“Our first run was held last year and unfortunately it was the day Mrs. Graesser passed away. We wanted to continue it, so from now on it will be called the Shelly Graesser Memorial Run,” said Vail Ranch Middle School PTSA President Russell Lorts.
Lorts said participating students and staff members were already at the run last year when they had heard about Graesser’s freak accident, which occurred the previous Friday night, so they continued on with last year’s run anyway.
The 5K is a PTSA fundraiser to purchase technology or whatever supplies the school needs, Lorts said. He said the PTSA asked the Graesser family this year if the organization could also donate some of the proceeds from this year’s event to a charity of the family’s choice, and the family said yes. Graesser’s sudden death was a big blow to the school where she was a well-loved administrator.
Last year, the 5K run raised $1,700 for the PTSA, after expenses.
“We plan on doing much better this year because our participation will be better,” Lorts predicted.
The fee to participate for those who register by midnight on Saturday Feb. 16 is $20; it’s $25 to register after that, by Feb. 22.
Vail Ranch Middle School students with an ASB or PTSA membership pay only $15. All participants will receive a T-shirt, goodie bag and refreshments after the race.
Graesser, 37, was the assistant principal at Vail Ranch Middle School, coming to the school in 2004.
She was killed last April in a tractor accident on her family’s blueberry farm in Temecula when the tractor she was riding flipped over. She left behind a husband and two young children.
Amy Bentley is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.