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Catholic school shares good fortune of award with four needy schools
By Julie Filby
When St. Thomas More School parent Alicia Berg visited the Discovery Channel’s website last year, looking for educational materials for her kindergartener, she came across a sweepstakes for a $35,000 playground makeover.
Thinking ‘why not?’ she entered the sweepstakes.
Several weeks later she was notified that her name had been selected from more than 31,000 entries.
On April 27, Alicia and husband Tim, joined more than 600 students, teachers and staff, and guests for an assembly in the gymnasium at St. Thomas More School to receive the grand prize: $25,000 from Sports Authority in new sports equipment and supplies; and $10,000 from Discovery Education and the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) to revamp the school’s playground.
“Wow, what a great awards assembly!” said Principal Paul Mott. “We give a heartfelt thank you to each of the partners for their donation to the award—and we extend a huge thank you to Mrs. Berg for entering the contest on our behalf.”
The administration of St. Thomas More, in cooperation with Catholic Schools Superintendent Richard Thompson, decided to share their good fortune and distributed several thousands of dollars in cash and equipment to four needy schools in the archdiocese: Annunciation, Assumption, Presentation of Our Lady and Guardian Angels—all in Denver.
“As soon as I found out about the prize I told Father (Andrew Kemberling) right away, ‘This needs to be shared,’” Mott explained. “He agreed and said ‘Disburse it as far as you can.’”
Each beneficiary school made a wish list. Some requests were fulfilled outright, with items such as soccer balls, footballs and basketballs; while other “wishes” were fulfilled with Sports Authority gift cards, allowing the school to go on a shopping spree.
“We were blessed to be able to share the prize with four other schools,” Mott said.
St. Thomas More School will allocate the majority of their portion to upgrade the playground of their newly added preschool, to meet state regulations. They hope to complete this project over the summer.
Sports Authority also provided St. Thomas More with new basketball uniforms, which were modeled by players at the assembly.
Representatives at the assembly included: Miss Colorado 2010 Melaina Shipwash, an associate with HWCF; Centennial Mayor Cathy Noon; Vanessa Antonellis, director of marketing for Sports Authority; Susan Ralston, senior advisor for HWCF; Michael Botte, vice president of corporate education partnerships for Discovery Communication; St. Thomas More School administrators; St. Thomas More Pastor Father Kemberling; Sister Elizabeth Youngs, S.C.L, associate superintendent of Catholic Schools; and the Bergs.
The Truth on Health Campaign, launched by professional basketball player Paul Pierce, also partnered in the sweepstakes. Pierce, captain of the Boston Celtics, donated a supply of activity watches. As the Celtics were still competing in the NBA playoffs at the time, Pierce was unable to attend the assembly and sent a message of congratulations that was read to the student body.
U.S. Senator for Colorado Michael Bennet, former superintendent of Denver Public Schools, sent a message as well, stressing the importance of physical fitness and athletics in school.
“I know how important physical activity is to helping students succeed in the classroom,” he wrote, “and your decision to share your prizes with other schools in your archdiocese ensures that the benefits will be community-wide.”
The purpose of the inaugural sweepstakes was to promote the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Five runner-up winners across the country also received $15,000 for playground equipment. Organizers plan to sponsor the sweepstakes again next year.