May 18, 2012

Providing a helping hand

Story by Macario Mora

Airmen help local elementary kick start Yee Haw Fun Run

Volunteers help Yaneli Rios, a 14-year-old 8th grader, through the obstacle course April 27, during Cartwright Elementary School’s first ever Yee Haw Fun Run. Rios doesn’t have use of her legs and has limited use of one of her arms.

Roughly 20 Airmen volunteered to help Cartwright Elementary School successfully host the Yee Haw Fun Run, which coordinator Lorain Marquez, 5th grade teacher, hopes will become an annual event.

“We’re hoping to have a second annual,” Marquez explained. “There will definitely be changes, but I think this has turned out pretty good.”

Marquez said she was excited to have Airmen from Luke help volunteer for the event, but not nearly as thrilled as the elementary school children.

“The eighth grade kids are so excited to have Airmen here, seriously,” Marquez said. “The kids think they’re celebrities. When they found out the Airmen were coming they all wanted to get autographs. The military gives the children someone to look up too so much.”

Airman 1st Class Travis Marshall, with the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron, helps a student participate in the rope swing, which was one of many stations throughout the obstacle course.

Throughout the day Airmen manned the various stations and motivated the students as they made their way through a labyrinth of muddy obstacles that included a Slip ‘n Slide and rope swing, among many others. Later in the afternoon the Airmen raced with eighth grade students as a local firefighter sprayed them with a hose from his truck. The Airmen also taught the children how to fold an American flag in honor of fallen service members.

“I like doing volunteer events for just about anything,” said Senior Airman Susan Franklin, a 22-year-old with the 56th Maintenance Operation Squadron. “It’s fun to come out and get involved with the community.”

Senior Airman Michael Emerson was just as excited to volunteer at Cartwright Elementary.

“It’s great to support the local community,” said Emerson, a 26-year-old with the 56th Operations Support Squadron. “I’ve helped out elementary schools before. This is the second time in this area. I love helping out with kids, and I’m here to help there be a successful fun run.”

Marquez said the idea to host a fun run at her elementary school came after she participated in the Arizona Spartan Sprint in February. She said a group of kids wanted to do the event with her but because of logistical and financial reasons couldn’t make the trip to Chandler to participate. So, she decided to create an after school run club, and after noticing the runners dedication to fitness decided to reach out to Spartan Race and Rock Star Boot Camp organizers to help host a fun run.

Toward the end of the fun-filled and eventful day, Airmen and other volunteers carried Yaneli Rios through the obstacle course. The eighth grader is a disabled girl who has no use of her legs and limited use of one arm. The crowed of children and volunteers cheered wildly as 14-year-old made her way through the final leg of the course – a fitting end to a day dedicated to disadvantaged youth.

Senior Airman Susan Franklin and another volunteer make their way through the Slip-N-Slide obstacle course April 27 during Cartwright Elementary School’s first ever Yee Haw Fun Run. Franklin was one of roughly 20 Airmen who volunteered to help run each station throughout the obstacle course.

Tech. Sgt. Bernard Edmonds, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, helps students roll a tire at the tire pull obstacle during the Yee-haw Fun Run. Edmonds was one of roughly 20 Airmen who volunteered from Luke during the event. A local fire department, Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and fitness gurus from Spartan Race and Rock Star Boot Camp also volunteered for Cartwright’s first ever fun run.

Airman 1st Class Henry Eichorn, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit, low crawls with Cartwright Elementary students during the Yee-haw Fun Run. Lorain Marquez, a 5th grade teacher at Cartwright, came up with the idea of the fun run after participating in Arizona Spartan Sprint in February.

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