The Roundup -

Culbertson Color Run

 


"Never Underestimate what a small group of people can accomplish," no matter their age. Culbertson High School Student Council brought an amazing motivational speaker to town. His message was the preface for a great class discussion in the Junior High JMG class. Through this discussion, a very personal statement was made by a student in regards to the death of his newborn brother earlier this year. While students and teachers are constantly faced with meeting standards and tests, sometimes the human touch can be lost in the shuffle. This student returned to school after such a tragic loss for he and his family, and found everyone was back to 'normal' and it seemed as if no one cared about their loss.

In healing his family chose to honor their lost angel by participating in the Ramsey Keller Memorial Foundation walk, "Run, For Heavens' Sake". We learned that this foundation is amazing. When the Keller family lost their baby, they realized that when a family is suffering like that, that the last thing they need to contend with is the high and unexpected cost of funeral expenses. JMG Advisor received a letter asking for support for the Jaxens Joggers and initially set out to take a bus for anyone who wanted to participate to go, however it was the day after graduation and a long journey. With discussions held in class, the students chimed in, "Lets have our OWN walk!"– And so began the planning. Students realized that everyone has suffered some sort of loss after hearing of another fellow classmate who recently lost her mother to breast cancer and another who lost their father unexpectedly. "We need something that will make everyone smile again! Be happy! And something EVERYONE can be a part of, not just one age group" were some ideas shared.

Students attempted to make their own color powder in class, proving to be quite a task. So the decision was made to reach out into the community for help. What happened next is what makes Northeast Montana special. As the word got out, businesses, groups and individuals all came forth to offer their support and assistance! Soon there were 9 Color Stations sponsored with a 10th very special one. A family who wishes to remain anonymous wanted to sponsor a color station for the Montana Meth Project to promote everyone to make healthy choices. Another community member came forward with the idea of a 'Nickelodeon Splash' stop (similar to a Gel Drop). Soon it evolved into the final station and if participants wanted in on the fun, they had to stand and take a pledge to stay away from drugs, educate others on their dangers and to not try meth…”NOT EVEN ONCE!” Next, they were doused with color!!!!

Then the students found out that another local family was also the recipient of the generosity of the Ramsey Keller Memorial Foundation, in fact, their baby girl would have been 9 months old on the day of the walk! Another family came in and wanted to make a donation in memory of a sibling they lost years ago, and at least 5 families followed suit. The next thing we knew we had a sponsor to cover the cost of a balloon release in memory of all babies taken too soon. Vendors were coming, a DJ, volunteer photographers and more! Local RMC EMS Ambulance Crew not only sponsored a station, but also worked with the Roosevelt County Sheriffs Department in handling traffic control as they too sponsored a station! The community effort was amazing! While students were busy making phone calls, posters, banners and planning; many community members volunteered their time, energy and skills into making this work. Never has our community had such an event like this and not too often is there something for everyone! We have spent the past 9 months with adults sitting in bleachers and stands supporting young athletes, yet not many opportunities to join them!

The morning of the walk there were 185 participants registered. Exact numbers are a little rocky, but it's estimated a little over 300 people participated in the Color Fun Run! Local Major and Minor Baseball teams were sponsored to walk, the High School Track team preparing for State competition joined in the walk, families and friends formed groups, and the Missouri River Ranchers 4H Club sponsored their members to walk as well! Every year the Culbertson 5th graders hold a flea market with a percentage of their profits going to a local charity. This year, they voted to donate it to the Color Fun Run and this allowed the 5th grade class to walk as well!

JMG makes weekly visits to the nursing home and wanted the residents to be able to participate as well. They delivered small packets of color for the residents to throw at participants on the route as well. Staff had them lined up in front of the Clinic and participants were kind in slowing down and allowing the residents to 'color them'! Volunteers came out with side-by-side vehicles to lead the race and one to follow, and others to be in the middle in case someone needed help! Many stopped and helped at the color stations or wherever needed! The top finishers of the run just so happened to be in the 4x4 relay team that is headed for State!

Upon returning to the Fairgrounds, everyone was greeted by music, food, beverages and more! Vendors were donating part of their proceeds to the cause! Local photographers were donating their time with before and after pictures! The main attraction was the Montana Meth Project 'drop' where people were slimed! While music and dancing were in abundance! Once everyone had a chance to catch their breath, a local pastor gathered with those parents and families who were walking in memory of a small angel taken too soon. Sponsors had provided Pink and Blue Mylar balloons as well as helium filled balloons. She shared some of the great conversations she had while on the walk of how meaningful and healing this day was for them and then offered up a prayer before the balloons released. Each family represented was presented with a small token of a sand filled vase in memory of their child.

As people drove around the town of Culbertson that evening, remnants of the run were obvious at the location of each color station. The underlined theme of the day was “when life throws colors at you....run with it!” A small group of Junior High Students wanted to show a fellow classmate that, although they may not have had the words to offer him, they cared. They care about each other and they care about everyone in their community who has suffered a loss; no matter what that loss is. As of this time, this group of students, and everyone who has helped out and joined them along the way, has raised over $5,000.00 for the Ramsey Memorial Foundation in memory of Jaxen Purvis and many others who were remembered this day. "We want to give people a reason to smile again! To find joy and know that we can honor those we lost by living FOR them;” this was their goal. By the looks on the faces of the 300 plus people there, one would say they met their goal!

 

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