By VASHTI HARRIS
JAMESBURG After months of fundraising, receiving an unexpected donation and committing to hours of cardio training, John F. Kennedy (JFK) Elementary School Principal Pamela Hernandez finished her first marathon.
Recognizing that her students were in need of better technology equipment, Hernandez started the “Run All Day for JFK” fundraising campaign with a goal of raising $10,000 to purchase 50 Google Chromebooks for her students.
To do her part, she chose to run in the 26-mile Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon on April 30 in Long Branch.
“I feel amazed and relieved that I was able to actually run all day for 26.2 miles. The sense of accomplishment from completing a marathon combined with the excitement and support of my staff and students for this worthwhile endeavor made for a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Hernandez said.
Prior to the marathon, JFK Elementary School received a $10,000 donation via a DonorsChoose.org grant from Burlington Stores on March 16.
“The $10,000 Burlington Stores donation via DonorsChoose.org was an exciting and welcome boost for our Chromebook cause. We believe they may have selected us partially because of the Sentinel’s article about our fundraising efforts, so thank you. Additionally, our teachers here at JFK regularly access DonorsChoose.org grants to enhance and improve their classrooms for our wonderful superstar students,” Hernandez said.
Despite receiving the funds needed to purchase the 50 Chromebooks for her students, Hernandez continued to train for the marathon so that any additional money raised would go toward buying more Chromebooks.
Through the Run All Day for JFK GoFundMe page, proceeds from the school’s t-shirt sale, and donations from the JFK staff, families and the Jamesburg community helped raised approximately $7,500, Hernandez said.
“On a personal note, training for and running a marathon was a very challenging undertaking and the time investment was significant on top of my very busy schedule. That being said, it was a remarkable experience coupled with a strong sense of achievement and pride. More importantly, this feat proved to my students that you can do anything you set your mind to if you work hard and maintain high expectations of yourself,” Hernandez said.
Once she returned to work that week, Hernandez said that her staff presented her with a celebratory breakfast.
“I celebrated with a quiet, relaxing dinner with my family because I was so hungry and tired. The following day, I returned to work to find a beautiful celebration breakfast, complete with gifts and goodies from my awesome, one-of-a-kind staff. The walls of my office are filled with pictures, cards, banners and words of encouragement from my superstar students,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez said that after this fundraising experience she has many people to thank.
“First and foremost, I would like to thank my husband, Lenny Hernandez. He is my rock and he helped keep me on track during my most difficult training sessions. Thanks to Burlington Stores via DonorsChoose.org for their kindness, generosity and commitment to children. This fundraiser wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Superintendent Brian Betze and the Jamesburg Board of Education,” she said.
“I’d like to send a huge shout out to my staff, students and their families. Additionally, the Jamesburg PTA is the icing on the cake of our school. They coordinated the Fun Run and assisted JFK every step of the way, as they do with every event that enriches our students’ educational experience.”
Contact Vashti Harris at vharrisnewspapermediagroup.com.