With nearly two weeks to go until a run/walk road race to support medical care in Haiti, students at Gardner High School have already surpassed their goal of raising $3,000 through the event.
“It’s a great thing for our school, it’s a great thing for our community, it’s a great thing for people in Haiti,” said Principal Michael Baldassarre.
The Fitness Concepts Health Club’s third annual five-kilometer race will help support Gardner doctor John Mulqueen’s efforts to bring a permanent mdical clinic to Les Cayes, Haiti. Mulqueen, who graduated from GHS in 1977, travels frequently to the South Haitian town to help run medical clinics. He hopes to set up a permanent clinic to provide pediatric and prenatal care and treatment for people with HIV and AIDS.
Thanks to the GHS students efforts to bring more people out to the race, the clinic will include a “Wildcat Waiting Room.” In honor of the school, it will be painted orange and black. A placque on the wall will list all the students who contributed to the room’s construction.
Baldassarre said he is proud to think of people thousands of miles away hearing of the school.
“People in another country, in another city, are going to see the sign and say, “I wonder where Gardner is,” he said.
Baldassarre said the students who led the fundraising drive convinced friends, family members, and others to preregister for the race. He said many teachers and staff also got involved in the effort, with some classroom teachers allowing students to participate in the race as part of for-credit projects.
“It’s actually reached into the curriculum here at the high school,” he said.
In particular, Baldassarre said Veronica Guay, a tutor at the school, was instumental in making the fundraising effort successful. He said she coordinated students’ fundraising work and posted a thermometer illustration, showing how close the school was coming to reaching its goal.
“It’s so like Veronica just to step up and say, ‘you need somebody to do this, I’m here,'” he said.
The school’s National Honor Society and student council, as well as sports teams and individual classes, have also been active in the fundraising campaign, Baldassarre said.
Even before the effort to raise the money for the waiting room kicked off, the school’s Leo Club held a seperate fundraiser to support Mulqueen’s work. According to club advisor Mary Delaney, members ran a dinner/dance on Friday March 24 and raised $709 for Forward in Health. Forward in Health is a nonprofit organization established to provide health and medical care to the people of Les Cayes, Haiti. Mulqueen is a leader of the organization.
Baldassarre said that sum was not counted toward the $3,000 goal.
“That’s just the Leo Club being the Leo Club,” he said.
Baldassarre said he hopes the school will develop a strong reputation throughout Gardner and beyond for its work in the community. Previously , he has said he supports eventually making community service a graduation requirement.
“Hopefully this is just a start,” Baldassarre said, “We’ve just shown that one thing what we can do. I say, hey, let’s go, let’s do more.”
Although the deadline for preregistering for the run/walk has passed, Baldassarre said students are still bringing in more registrations. Anyone can register up until the event for a slightly higher fee.
The May 20 race will begin at 9:30 a.m. for walkers and 10 a.m. for runners. It will start and finish at the Fitness Concepts Health Club on West Broadway. Those who want to take part in the race can contact the gym, at (978) 630-5114.
Reprinted with permisson of The Gardner News