A record year: Dawg Walk fundraiser tops six figures

The crowd roared in laughter and excitement as Middletown Prairie Elementary School Principal Wendy Starwalt and Assistant Principal Ryan Martin were covered in slime by select students last Thursday at the elementary school's gymnasium.

The sliming was part of the prize offerings from this year's Dawg Walk, the M-S PTO's largest fundraiser for the Middletown Prairie Elementary and Lincoln Trail Elementary schools.

Ken Keefe, chair for the Dawg Walk, said 2018's total $106,657 was by far the largest funds raised.

"We've never broken $100,000 before," Keefe said, "and we're very happy to see that this year."

Each year, the Dawg Walk encourages students to ask community members, family and friends to make contributions toward the M-S PTO's effort to assist with ongoing educational needs.

"It allows us to allocate funds directly to the school for art supplies or math manipulatives or tablets that they (the elementary schools) could use a little extra money for," Keefe said. "We give a stipend to every teacher in the district, I believe it's $100, and it's just to cover the expenses teachers rack up or that they incur for teaching."

Keefe said last year's raised funds helped make an approximate $11,500 contribution toward Middletown Prairie Elementary School's playground.

The chair said this year's raised funds came from more than 900 of the approximate 1,600 elementary students.

"Some kids will just reach out to family, some go out door to door," he said. "We get baggies full of what must have been piggy banks sent in and we get checks from parents' employers that are matching grants and all sorts of things — it's a wide range. Kids raise money anyway they can."

Prizes for the top earners included the top boy and girl earners across the district participating in a homecoming game activity of their choosing — whether it be with the band, the cheer squad or the football team.

Top earners from each grade were represented in the Dawg Walk's homecoming parade float on Wednesday. The top five earners from each elementary school were able to slime their principals along with five additional students who were randomly drawn from each building's crowd.

"The kids got a huge kick out of it," Keefe said.

"I was out at the courtyard (of Middletown Prairie Elementary) mixing up the slime, which is pancake batter with green food dye, and I had all sorts of eyes and kiddos coming over saying, 'Oh, I can't wait to do the sliming' or asking 'Who's going to get to do the sliming?'" Keefe said. "They've just been looking forward to it since we announced the idea."

Each school held its own celebration to mark the end of the fundraiser. Last Thursday Middletown Prairie Elementary students walked around the school's building while Lincoln Trail Elementary students celebrated by walking around Lake of the Woods' Buffalo Trace. Both groups held dance parties and were provided popsicles.

"It's just so fun to see the kids get excited and get to do something with their classes that brings them together," Keefe said.

Keefe sees the M-S PTO's long tradition of the Dawg Walk only continuing to grow next year. He hopes to work out some of this year's minor kinks, such as creating a better plan for how parents can participate in their children's celebrations.

"It's something we'll get worked out," he said. "But we were very happy and we had very few issues this year."

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