Expanding from 796 runners in 1994 to 26,844 in 2015, Run to Feed the Hungry (RTFTH) has has become the largest Thanksgiving Day fun run in the country.
RTFTH is an annual race that benefits the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services and is now one of the Food Bank’s largest fundraising operations.
Country Day’s 2016 team has raised about $6,250 as of Nov. 20, with 94 people signed up, putting the school team in second place in terms of money raised.
Team DBBWC (Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, a personal injury law firm) is currently in first place with $8,000 raised.
Until last year, Country Day held the trophy for most donations. Even though last year was one of Country Day’s best – the team raised almost $11,000 – the school team was narrowly beaten by DBBWC.
Tucker Foehl, assistant head of school and team captain, said that winning is less important than fundraising.
“I don’t really care about who raises the most money, just that it is raised,” Foehl said.
Even though registration to run in RTFTH is over, people can still contribute. Supporters can pledge money to the runners after the deadline.
“All of the donations, no matter what size, all go to a good cause,” sophomore Luca Procida, one of the leaders of the SCDS team, said.
Procida is currently looking for more help in the community and has found a few middle schoolers whom he might train to be future leaders.
“It is more detrimental than beneficial to be the only student leader, since it gives me more things to do in the area of promoting and getting fundraisers for the run,” Procida said.
“That being said, I have a lot of support from faculty and other people in the school community.”
Middle-school math teacher Laura Monahan pointed out that small donations still go a long way because corporate partners of the Food Bank multiply every donation by 10, turning a donation of $5 into a donation of $50.
Ten years ago, Paul Kessler, ‘11, founded the school RTFTH team.
Kessler and Colin Keiner, ’11, led the team at the beginning.
Kessler said he aproached the middle-school student council with the idea. Kessler had been participating in the race since 2002, he said, when his mother (who was already involved with the Food Bank) wanted him to become associated with a local charity.
“She got me fundraising, and I got really into it,” Kessler said.
“I started with friends and family, and then I branched out to neighbors, extended family, parents, co-workers, pretty much anyone who would listen to my pitch.”
Kessler eventually became a top-five individual fundraiser.
The team’s numbers vary slightly every year; most years there are about 200. The registered runners and fundraisers that make up the team produce over 100 donations.
According to Manson Tung, ‘16, (who led last year’s team with Akilan Murugesan, ‘16) high school is where the bulk of the leadership is in relation to the school team.
Like Foehl, Tung emphasized that the most important aspect of the race isn’t winning but the money it raises.
“At the end of the day, it’s a charitable event, and the goal is to help alleviate hunger,” Tung said.
“And you don’t do that by running. You do that by raising money.
“What I do care (about) is that the people on the Country Day Team have created a fundraising page, have called their friends, their family, their neighbors, their doorman, their gardener, their tutors, SAT specialists, their college counselor, and asked them for money.
“It is really nice to have to ability to take action and see the results of it right before your eyes because this is our local community. If you ever go down to the Food Bank you see the lives that it touches. ”
“I’m so proud of the way SCDS has embraced the Run to Feed the Hungry,” Kessler said.
(Reporters Spencer Scott and Grace Naify also contributed to this article.)
—By Allison Zhang