Running For A Cause

A group of Bennett Elementary fourth graders have been training all year to run in the Fargo Marathon 5K Race on May 9. But they are doing more than running a physical race. They are running to provide books for children halfway around the world.


Elementary teacher Cynthia Varriano is understandably proud of the efforts of a group of Bennett Elementary students—efforts that are both physical and character-building.

A group of more than 50 students from Sheri Schulz, Patricia Drege, and Varriano’s fourth grade classes have been training all year long to run in the Fargo Marathon 5K Race, which takes place at 7:00 p.m. on May 9. Training outdoors, every other day at 10:30 a.m. Training all winter, despite the colder-than-average temperatures, and into the spring, outdoors still, despite the recent rainy weeks.

3 boys running outside in snowtwo runners outside against backdrop of high snow banks






What makes this dedicated group of runners so different and special, however, is not that they are impervious to the weather, it is that they are running for more than themselves. They are running for a cause.

group of boys in t-shirts that read "irun so kids get books"

This group is running to change the lives of other kids halfway around the world in Ethiopia. The Bennett students are running to raise money for Ethiopia Reads, a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization founded in 1998 with the goal of providing much needed
in-language books and building libraries for the children of Ethiopia. These Bennett runners understood the power of books to stretch one’s imagination and to allow the reader to travel across distance and time. So they decided together to dedicate their 2014 running effort for Ethiopia Reads.

Check out this short video that chronicles the students’ dedication to their race training and their dedication to helping the kids in Ethiopia.

kids stand around a table with fundraising jar on display

Now that race time is fast approaching, the runners are holding a fundraiser in the Bennett lobby every morning before the school day begins, through the morning of the race. For a $1.00 donation you can sign the back of one of the shirts that will be worn by the race runners—so that a small part of you can run the race with them. The team shirts read iRun so kids get BOOKS.

Interested donors can also visit the group’s gofundme page, which was set up by Bennett parent and volunteer Betty Gronneberg. Donations made at this site go directly to Ethiopia Reads.

By the time they cross the 5K finish line, this group of runners will have learned valuable life lessons about planning, discipline, and accomplishment, but most importantly, they will have learned how small our world really is, and how powerful they each are to positively change it.

Varriano has encouraged, trained, and run with a group of students in the past six Fargo Marathon 5K Races.