AYER -- The 2014 Janis Bresnahan Run for Education celebrates its 10th anniversary of remembering Janis Bresnahan and honoring her life as an outdoor enthusiast and advocate for children.
This annual family event covers multiple age categories and events, including a Tots Trot, a 2K walk/run and a competitive 5K run through the community of Ayer. Proceeds will allow the children of the Ayer Shirley Regional School District to benefit from Janis' life far into the future. The fundraiser provides a direct resource to the Ayer Shirley Education Foundation's grant program, the vision of which is to increase education opportunities for all students.
Janis Bresnahan was born on May 15, 1971, and grew up in Ayer. Graduating from Ayer High School in 1989, Janis was highly involved in outdoor activities, enjoying hobbies such as running, cycling and boating. She was co-captain of the AHS women's track team her senior year. With a love of children, Janis was a pre-school teacher at "Kiddie Depot" for a few years and transitioned into teaching computer education as an enrichment program at several local elementary schools.
What's going to be different about this year's Janis Bresnahan Run for Education? How about running the course in reverse! Traditionally, the 5K Race has departed from the Ayer Shirley High School track, and participants would take a right, facing a challenging hill up Washington Street. This year, for the first time, participants will take a left onto Washington Street, potentially creating an opportunity for improved race times and a 'not quite as steep' uphill finish.
What can participants and guests count on from previous years? Great live music, a delicious barbecue, children's activities and fun prizes for top winners in various categories. Along the racecourse, participants will find clear mile markers, water stations and medical personnel.
Spectators and participants alike are invited to stop by and see one of the many outcomes of the grant program first-hand, as the Ayer Shirley Robotics Competition Team will have a robot on display on the day of the event.
Christine Miska, an engineering director at BAE Systems and the parent of ninth-grade and seventh-grade students, said, "The Andromeda One FIRST Robotics Competition team was started this year at the high school. We were grateful to receive the largest ASEF grant awarded this year."
Interested participants can currently register through the Janis Bresnahan Run for Education website (www.janisbresnahanforeducation.com ). Race day registration begins at 9:30 a.m. with the Tot Trot (up to six years old) planned start of 10:30 a.m., followed by the 2K Fun Run and Walk at 11:15 a.m., and finally the 5K will have a noon start. Top awards include $100 for the first-place male and female overall finishers for the 5K run and other prizes will be given to the top finishers in all age categories. The first 300 registered participants will receive a free short-sleeve T-shirt. Race day registration is $10 for the Tot Trot and $20 for the 5K Run and 2K Fun Run/Walk.
Fred Deppe, principal of Page Hilltop Elementary School, said, "The Janis Bresnahan Run for Education is one of the first events I look to put on my school calendar each year. The JBR provides benefits to so many people.
"First and foremost," he said, "it serves as a tribute to a special individual who devoted her life to family, community and education. The proceeds from this annual run help ASRSD teachers to provide quality educational experiences for all of our students. As the saying goes: 'It takes a village to raise a child.' Well it also takes a community to educate a child. Beyond the actual running of the race, the JBR day is a total community affair complete with a barbecue, music, games for the children and a venue for community members to share time together."
"I will be there for JBR day," said Deppe, "and enthusiastically encourage everyone from the Page Hilltop School community to join me!"
The Janis Bresnahan Run for Education has been the biggest fundraising event for the Ayer Shirley Education Foundation. Proceeds have been allocated to fund enrichment opportunities and creative programming outside of the regular school budget. The ASEF has awarded more than $250,000 in enrichment grants to date.
Janis Bresnahan's cousin, Betsy Dolan, who is a school counselor at Page Hilltop, said, "I get to observe and experience first-hand the benefits of our sponsors and road race funding by being in the classrooms and working with teachers and students in our school district. The funding that is raised from this road race is enriching the experiential learning of children. Having grown up in Ayer and being in these schools myself, it's wonderful to be able to pay it forward in Janis's memory."
The strength of local sponsorship has been consistent for 10 years running, with the premier sponsor being North Middlesex Savings Bank. Sponsors can contribute at two other levels, Platinum and Gold, and will be recognized in future publications as well at the May 18 event.
For information, go to www.janisbresnahanforeducation.com.