With lots of sunshine and cool morning temperatures, it was a great day for the second annual 5k run/walk fundraiser where at least a couple hundred participants of all ages gathered at Vail Ranch Middle School at 33340 Camino Piedro Rojo in Temecula.
The 5k kicked off shortly after 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23.
The Vail Ranch Middle School PTSA held the fundraiser in order to honor the school’s late assistant principal Shelly Graesser, 37, who was killed last April in a tractor accident at her family’s berry farm.
The tragic accident occurred hours before the April 28, 2012 first annual 5k run/walk at the school.
“We have decided, with the authorization of her family, that we’re going to start calling it the ‘Shelly Graesser Memorial 5k Bulldog Run,’” said Russell Lorts who is the PTSA President at the school. “It was very traumatic for us (last year).”
“She was the most support we had for this 5k,” Lorts said.
Lorts added that Mrs. Graesser is “the driving force for the PTSA” and other school events.
According to Lorts, admission was $20 for the public and $15 to students with a percentage of all proceeds being donated to a charity of Mrs. Graesser’s family choice.
“We try to make it affordable, and of course, if any student cannot pay, we let them run anyway,” Lorts added.
A 5k run/walk is about 3.2 miles from start to finish.
The event is a PTSA fundraiser to purchase technology or whatever supplies the school needs, Lorts said.
All participants received a T-shirt, goodie bag and refreshments after the race.
The school’s principal Kevin Groepper came out to show his support and to “walk” the 5k, but mainly to “Keep Shelly’s memory alive,” he said shortly after arriving.
“It’s a fun event and the kids are excited,” Groepper said.
Daniel Lane is a local photojournalist and regular contributor to SWRNN.