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Support students at Gilles-Sweet by running in the 2022 Derby Dash

Gilles-Sweet Derby Dash Logo and InformationMay 18, 2022

 

Springtime signals the return of many things: warmer weather, baseball, flowers, and the Gilles-Sweet Elementary Derby Dash - now in its seventh year. 


This year’s Derby Dash will occur on Saturday, May 21, with registration beginning at 7:30 AM. Pre-registration is going on now at www.fairviewparkschools.org/derbydash.  All proceeds from the Derby Dash benefit the students and programs at Gilles-Sweet Elementary School. 


The Derby Dash features a 5K race and 1-mile walk throughout the community of Fairview Park. The course starts on Campus Drive by Lewis F. Mayer Middle School and runs around Bain Park and through local neighborhoods. It ends on the track at James B. Daley stadium, behind Fairview High School.


“We get a lot of people, a lot of kids, and a lot of random runners,” Allison Klodnick, physical education teacher at Gilles-Sweet and organizer of the Derby Dash, explained. “We’ve gotten compliments from the people who come. They say the course is really nice, and it’s nice running around the park.”


“It definitely builds a sense of community,” Shanna Kovi, associate principal at Gilles-Sweet, added. “It brings the families, the kids, the extended families show up. And there are those legit runners who sign up.”


The Derby Dash organizing committee features about 20 Gilles-Sweet staff. They help not only with race day activities but with the coordination of other fundraisers. For example, the school hosted a drive-thru car wash and pancake breakfast for the community for the second consecutive year. 


Gilles-Sweet staff also make donations to ensure any student who wishes to enter the race has the opportunity to join, despite financial hardships. In addition, teachers at each grade level also collect donations for raffle baskets, which are raffled off after the race. Tickets to enter the raffle can be purchased at the school or online. 


Donations come in from many local businesses and organizations, including Becker’s Donuts, Cleveland Ketchup, Fairview Park Youth Association, Fairview Park Women’s Club, Gunselman’s, O’Neill Healthcare, and more. Nearly 50 businesses and groups have donated. In addition, PTA members and parents organize inflatables, and a concession stand on race day. Fairview Park police help secure the race route.


Last year’s basket raffle raised nearly $2,700. In total, the 2021 Derby Dash raised $18,000 for the school.


“That money has gone to purchase several things,” Matt Krivak, principal at Gilles-Sweet explained. “It’s purchased classroom furniture, such as flexible seating. It’s purchased field trips, and all of our PBIS supplies that go into the Warrior Warehouse. We purchased t-shirts for kids the one year and also have bought supplies for the safe space.”


Some of the money is placed aside for one special, long-term project at the school.


“We have a lump sum that has accrued in the account, and that continues to grow each year,” Krivak said. “The ultimate goal is to use that to renovate the Gilles-Sweet playground.”


The 2022 Derby Dash continues to be an important fundraising event and truly something that brings the entire community together for the benefit of future generations.


“It really shows that Fairview is really a community united, and it’s nice to have that connection with the school and the community,” Klodnick added.