St. Laurentius School, located at 1612 E. Berks St., has spent most of the year raising money in order to keep the school from closing. Through the hard work of dedicated alumni and local residents, the school will stay open.
The fundraising, however, has not stopped. This weekend, St. Laurentius Rectory hosted its first annual 5K Run and Finish Line Festival.
“The plans for this have been happening since December, but we have been preoccupied fighting the school’s closing,” said A.J. Thomson, who organized the event and whose daughter attends St. Laurentius. “Our goal today is to raise $20,000.”
Thomson said he could not have asked for a better day. By 11 a.m., it was 70 degrees and sunny.
“This is great. We would have started earlier though, because it’s so hot, but the festival afterwards locked us into a time,” Thomson said.
There were an estimated 300 runners and walkers registered for the 5K run. They all had matching T-shirts supporting the event and raced for the chance to win medals or trophies. The older and experienced runners led the pack, while families and children were able to hang behind and walk the path around the neighborhood.
“We want to continue to try to be the best school in the neighborhood,” said Father Frank Gwiazda, pastor at St. Laurentius, which was established in 1890. “This will go a long way.”
Once the runners crossed the starting line at Hewson and Tulip streets staff and volunteers prepared for the all-day festival. If the satisfaction of finishing a 5K wasn’t enough, there was music playing and a food stand serving hot dogs, burgers and funnel cakes.
The first to cross the finish line was Kyle Francis, 16, from Bensalem, Pa., who ran the 5K in less than 18 minutes. The winner among the women was Erin Wasnick, who clocked a time of 22 minutes.
“I run track and field in school, so I’ve done this before,” Francis said. “Although, my best time is 16:41.”
There were a lot of handshakes and congratulations as more and more runners crossed the finish line, and soon what started as a grueling 5K under the scorching sun quickly transformed into a block party.
“We had good cooperation from the city and the police department, which really made all this possible,” Thomson said. “There aren’t many events like this in the neighborhood, which makes this is a good way to bring everyone together, while benefiting the school.”