Super Heroes Big and Small Run ‘Round and ‘Round the Butler

Photo: And … they’re off!

It’s not every day your principal transforms into a superhero.

But last Wednesday, Nov. 2, the Butler Elementary’s Danielle Betancourt became “The Incredibles” Elastigirl who possesses the ability to stretch her body like rubber.

Well, that’s what she said she could do, although the majority of the time Elastigirl/Betancourt joined other costumed educators and staff cheering and encouraging all the students who participated in the Third Annual Butler Fun Run, the yearly fundraiser to help fund the school’s PTA enrichment programs.

Canceled twice due to wet weather, the second day of November proved sunny and cool, the perfect conditions for students from each grade to run, skip or walk around the school on the course designed by PE teacher Ted Trodden. After warming up in the gym with real local hero Becca Pizzi, the students were given a pedometer and sent out to run with their class. When they finished, each student was invited to sign the special banner and check how many steps they took.

This year, $21,000 was raised, which will go toward field trips, enrichment programs in school, library books, teacher supplies and professional development for the Butler staff.

So why did Betancourt choose the heroine of the Pixar Animation Studios film?

“Because she has arms that stretch so wide that she can hug the entire school!” said the newly-installed principal.

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Butler Students, Superheroes Fun Run for Enrichment

The dank, misty conditions this past Friday was no match for the likes of Batman and Captain America as the superheroes stood superhero like in the middle of the Butler Elementary School playground.

Nor was a mere 1 mile jog around the grounds of the Waverley Square school going to stop the duo from assisting Butler’s entire student population of 340 in running the same distance.

“This is a fantastic idea,” said Ann Ozawa, who came with her husband to cheer on her third grader, Zoe, as she did laps around the schoolyard.

“The kids were up and ready to go this morning and all the kids were here early,” she said as groups of parents cheered on the kids.

Yet the morning run was not some collective act of super-dopper strength, but part of a school-wide Fun Run fundraiser that exceeded the goals of students and staff.

With a goal of raising $10,000, the students – through online pledges from family, relatives and friends – smashed the objective and took in more than $18,000 with an extra $3,400 from corporate sponsors.

“The kids really surprised us. They really came through and really amazingly,” said Butler PTA’s Miriam Lapson.

(In fact, the only act of bravery was that of Butler Principal Michael McAllister who wore the Batman outfit for the entire morning as part of an agreement to get into a super hero costume if the fundraiser exceeded its goal.)

In past years, the school’s Parent Teacher Association ran an auction every three year to raise funds, said Lapson, who was on the fun run committee.

But with the school’s population changing demographics – the Butler students are more multicultural and have a wider income disparity than the other five schools in the district – “an auction just wasn’t going to work,” she said.

“We wanted something that everyone could take part in, whether you could or could not contribute, your parents don’t have to speak English. The only qualification was that you are a student at the school,” said Lapson.

That’s when the group thought of the fun run, said Lapson, which would have the added benefit of being a healthy activity and promoting physical education.

With help from The Original Get Movin’ Crew, a fun-run company based in Milford, Michigan, Butler students collected the $10,000 goal with three days to spare.

The funds raised will provide for two years of enrichment programs such as field trips, in-school enrichment, library books, teacher supplies and professional development for the Butler staff.

One superhero said the funds raised are greatly needed by staff and teachers.

“It’s huge for us. It allows us to purchase things and offer opportunities to kids we wouldn’t otherwise,” said Batman/McAllister.

“Unfortunately, some of the enrichment funding has been pulled out as we standardize our curriculum,” said McAllister. “The PTA comes through for us on that front.”