North America

Running for Adventist Education and Child Hunger in Colorado

Local church initiative in the U.S. drives a community to support good causes.

Sandi Alcox and Rajmund Dabrowski, Rocky Mountain Conference News
Running for Adventist Education and Child Hunger in Colorado
Medals wait to be awarded at the end of the first annual Elevate Kids Fun Run for the community in Grand Junction, Colorado, United States, April 10, 2022. [Photo: Rajmund Dabrowski]

Elevate Kids (EK), a nonprofit organization whose motto is “Helping Kids One Step at a Time,” was created by a couple of members of the Grand Junction Seventh-day Adventist Church in Grand Junction, Colorado, United States. 

Doug McCaw II, board chair of Intermountain Adventist Academy (IAA), and his wife, Melinda, are dedicated to raising money for IAA (which is expanding to grades 9 and 10 next school year) and Kids Aid, a nonprofit program that feeds hungry children.

On Sunday, April 10, the McCaws hosted the first Elevate Kids Fun Run for the community, with proceeds going to both IAA and Kids Aid. The event, which included 2.5K, 5K, and 10K routes, had 255 registrants, dozens of volunteers from the church and community, and many sponsors. Registrants received Elevate Kids t-shirts, swag bags, online photographs, awards for all finishers, and special awards for each category and overall winners. The EK team is already planning a second Fun Run for April 2023.

The Fun Run in Grand Junction, Colorado, drew more than 250 participants and raised funds to support an expanding Intermountain Adventist Academy and an organization  called Kids Aid that fights child hunger. [Photo: Rocky Mountain Conference News]

The event had a special significance for IAA principal Joel Reyes, who volunteered at the run. For him, Elevate Kids Fun Run meant that “the community [was brought] together for an event like this, and the name of the school was associated with this.

“It also meant support,” Reyes added. “I have a very supportive board chair this time, and this was very much his idea. The purpose of this is to start a junior academy in the Western Slope. That’s what we are fundraising and running and working for.” 

Representing Kids Aid was executive director Tessa Kaiser. “The run shows the community support for Kids Aid. Doug and Melinda wanted to do something to challenge themselves and make it about more than just themselves. They put this together to support Kids Aid and their child’s school,” she said.

“We are really grateful for that. And it really shows how much the community understands the need [to address] childhood hunger,” she added.

The Fun Run was not the first fundraiser the McCaws have organized. In July 2020, the McCaws ran the entire Colorado Trail (490 miles, or 790 kilometers) from Durango to Denver in 18 days. A documentary movie, Chasing the Sky, about the trip was watched by hundreds of people in local theaters. Proceeds from the film were split between IAA and Kids Aid.

The couple plans to rerun the Colorado Trail in July 2022, attempting to break the record for the fastest known time. Another documentary will be created, which will be shown in theaters, with proceeds going to IAA and Kids Aid.

Dana Nkana is a member of the Grand Junction Adventist church. Nkana said he joined the fund-raising run because he is eager to support Adventist education. [Photo: Rajmund Dabrowski]

“Helping the kids in our community is why we work so hard to raise funds and awareness for the kids in the Grand Valley. We want to give everyone in the community an opportunity to support the kids through our events,” Doug McCaw said.

Dana Nkana is a member of the Grand Junction Adventist church. For him, joining the run is supporting children’s education. “You know, we have two children, and I’m always looking for ways to where our children can be better than us,” he explained.

“I grew up in Africa, [and] there was nothing like this to help us when I was a kid. And so, with the opportunities that I have being here in this country, I feel that I am basically able to help other people to get to where they want to be,” he shared.

After completing his 10K run, Dana put his award around the neck of David Klemm. A medical condition has put David in a wheelchair. “I did this because David is a very good friend, and I know his heart, and his heart is with children. I know he currently volunteers to help children read. If he were able to be on two feet like I am, he would have been running,” Dana explained.

“And so, I run, and I gave him my award.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Rocky Mountain Conference news site.

Sandi Alcox and Rajmund Dabrowski, Rocky Mountain Conference News