Monday, August 27, 2018
By Brian Foley, Web Content Specialist
On Saturday, Aug. 25, hundreds of runners, volunteers, community leaders, staffers, and mascots gathered at Wick Playfield for the 11th annual "Run Back to School" race to kick off the school year. While finishing the 5K run or 1.5-mile walk around Washington Park was the immediate goal for all participating, everyone was there in the spirit of school and neighborhood unity.
"[This event] brings the whole school community back together to focus on running back to school, because we're going to be running for our young people all year long," Milwaukee Public Schools interim superintendent Dr. Keith P. Posley said.
MPS alumni, teachers, administrators, parents, students, and southeastern Wisconsinites all attended the run to support MPS' growth within the city. Proceeds from the event are used to support school-based athletic programs and youth recreation scholarships so all students have an opportunity to succeed in and out of the classroom.
"This is a good way to encourage people to think about the importance of education and get the school year off to a [positive] start," Marshall High School teacher Robert Schill said. The MPS school year technically opened on Aug. 13 for schools on the early start schedule, but many other students do not head back to class until Tuesday, Sept. 4 for those schools operating on the traditional calendar.
MPS and Milwaukee Recreation launched the 2018 race with words from members of the administration, including Dr. Posley, Recreation senior director Lynn Greb, School Board president Mark Sain, and School Board vice president Larry Miller. Mayor Tom Barrett was once again in attendance for the popular event.
"I like to come every year because it's a great start to the school year [for] great schools, [and these are] great t-shirts," Mayor Barrett cracked.
Though initial talks of a sprint between Dr. Posley, Mayor Barrett, President Sain, and Vice President Miller petered out, several MPS mascots stepped in for the traditional "Run Back to School" Mascot Race. Unburdened by a full mascot costume like many of his fellow competitors, the Burdick Panther breezed past the King General, the Wedgewood Wolf, the South Division Cardinal, the MSL Hawk, the Riverside Tiger, the Washington Purgolder, the Reagan Husky, the Manitoba Wildcat, and the MPS Nutrition's Apple to capture the crown in front of the roaring audience.
Dr. Posley signaled the start of the run on a perfect race day - an overcast 70 degrees with a slight breeze at start time - and the horde of Milwaukeeans took off for the trail around Washington Park. Caleb Kleman, a former high school cross country runner, was the first runner to cross the finish line after 18 minutes and 18 seconds. Kleman only moved to Milwaukee this year to volunteer through AmeriCorps, but he already understands how important the Run Back to School race is for the city.
"There are so many different people in the city and in the schools, and I think an event like this allows people who might not ordinarily come together to connect and spend some time together," Kleman said.
President Sain agrees about the value of the run, and the passion surrounding the event is unmistakable.
"This is one of the best times of the year for Milwaukee Public Schools," Sain said "We have this walk/run every year. I see a lot of friendly faces, I see a lot of energized folk, and I see folks coming out with their families; [this] truly speaks to what we do as a district."
The 2018 Run Back to School was made possible with generous support from United Healthcare, Educators Credit Union, Voya Financial, Goodwill Industries, Gruber Law Offices, NVA, YMCA, Grand Canyon University, Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Company, Aurora Health Care, Arena Americas, and Milwaukee County Parks.
Thank you to all of our sponsors for this year's event, as well as our participants and our volunteers. We look forward to seeing you next year to celebrate the 12th annual edition of the run!