For the past 5 years, Beebe Elementary has been celebrating our veterans in a unique way on Veterans’ Day. The Beebe Elementary Freedom Run has become an annual fundraising event that not only brings awareness to the many honorable veterans in our community but also raises funds to be donated to the Arkansas Freedom Fund. This fund supports rehabilitative, recreational, outdoor activities that benefit military veterans and their families. 10% of the money raised from the Freedom Run goes to the Arkansas Freedom Fund. The remainder of the funds are used to support Beebe Elementary student activities.
The Freedom Run sprouted five years ago when Elementary staff were looking for a new way to raise money for student activities that could also promote community involvement. The idea started as a walk-a-thon for students then staff realized that they could make the event more meaningful by holding the run on Veterans’ Day and donating a portion of the proceeds to help veterans. Since then, the event has grown into Beebe Elementary’s largest fundraiser of the year, and participants from across the district and community get involved.
Preparation for the Freedom Run begins weeks before the actual run when a “Kick-Off Day” is held to inform students of the Freedom Run’s purpose and encourage them to start gathering donations. This year, the goal is for each student to raise $25 to reach the school goal of $20,000. Donors can even make their donations in honor of specific veterans to be placed on the Wall of Honor. Along with gathering donations, students are encouraged to invite any and all veterans they know to the Freedom Run. One of the reasons the run is held on Veterans’ Day is so that veterans may attend without having to take a day off of work. During the event, veterans line up around “Bro” Erwin Stadium to be recognized as members of their specific branch of the military.
And the run isn’t just for fun! Students are awarded prizes for gathering the most donations as well as for finishing at the top of their race. Also, students who collect the most donations earn the privilege of leading the Pledge of Allegiance on the day of the Freedom Run.
Officially, the participants in the Freedom Run are Pre-K, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Grade students. However, district and community partners participate in multiple ways. The BHS Band plays as the veterans are honored before the run, AFJROTC members post the colors, the Cheer and Dance teams cheer on students as they run, HOSA students volunteer their time to help student participants, and Cross Country team members even run with the students! Also, various community businesses sponsor the Freedom Run and donate water to the runners.
The Beebe Elementary Freedom Run is a great cause that provides recognition and support to our well-deserving veterans. We invite community members and especially veterans to come be a part of this year’s Freedom Run on Monday, November 11!
*Special thanks to Beebe Elementary Assistant Principal Shannon Marshall and Beebe Elementary Counselor Jaymie McAfee for sharing the details of the Freedom Run and for all of their work in making this event a success!