Mohawk Trail Regional School ninth-graders hosting fundraising walkathon

  • Mohawk Trail Regional School in Buckland. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 5/18/2021 4:08:28 PM

BUCKLAND — The ninth-graders at Mohawk Trail Regional School are hosting a walkathon this month to benefit not only their class, but the Baystate Health Foundation to help offset medical costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think (the idea) came from us wanting to connect back to our community,” explained Rachel Pease, class office secretary. “We wanted to help them with the pandemic that’s happening.”

Although the walkathon — to be held May 22, from noon to 5 p.m. on the school track — isn’t open to the public, the class is seeking donations in advance from the community to support its dual-purpose fundraiser, of which 40 percent of proceeds will benefit the Baystate Health Foundation. Specifically, the donation will be earmarked to assist low-income families in Franklin County who are having a hard time paying hospital bills.

“Often, in a normal time, there are families that struggle with medical bills,” said Tesia Elani, advisor to the Class of 2024, recalling a conversation she’d had with a nurse at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield. “Now, it’s something that can really push families over the edge.”

Mohawk Trail Regional School District Communications Director Carla Potts said the last year has been a difficult one for organizing class fundraisers, which help to cover the cost of senior events, such as prom.

“Community support for things like this is really instrumental in helping them in the long run be able to fund these things that are so iconic of their high school experience,” Potts said.

Elani said when the students were brainstorming ideas for class fundraisers, they knew they wanted something that would bring the class together after months of remote work.

“We’ve never really done anything like this before,” said Sophia Goodnow, class president. “We thought it would be a fun way to get together and be socially distant, and also raise funds for our class.”

But the class also wanted to give back to the community for its fundraiser. At first, they considered fundraising for a local food bank.

“The issue with the food bank is there’s a food bank in every single town,” Elani said. “It’s a bit more complicated.”

Only the ninth-grade class will participate in the walk itself to keep the numbers low.

Big Y and Asma’s Kitchen are supporting the cause with donations of snacks and water during the walk, Elani said, adding that she is continuing to reach out to local businesses about donating prizes for students who raise the most money.

“If people want to reach out and make donations,” said Pease, “it won’t just be helping us, it will be helping others in the community as well.”

Information on how to make a donation toward the students’ walkathon can be found on the school’s website at Donation checks can be mailed to Mohawk Trail Regional School, 26 Ashfield Road, Shelburne, MA 01370, Attn: ninth-grade walkathon. Donations will be accepted for a week after the May 22 event.

Mary Byrne can be reached at or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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