Elevate Kids, a non-profit organization whose motto is “Helping Kids One Step at a Time,” was created by a couple of members of the Grand Junction Church. Doug McCaw II, board chairman of Intermountain Adventist Academy , and his wife, Melinda, are dedicated to raising money to benefit children, specifically, IAA (which is expanding to grades 9 and 10 next school year) and Kids Aid. This backpack-for-kids program feeds hungry children.
On Sunday, April 10, the McCaws hosted the first annual Elevate Kids Fun Run for the community, with proceeds going to IAA and Kids Aid. The event, which included 2.5K, 5K, and 10K routes, was a huge success, with 255 registrants, dozens of volunteers from the church and community, and many sponsors. Registrants received Elevate Kids T-shirts, swag bags, professional timing, online photographs, awards for all finishers, and special awards for each category and overall winners. The EK team is already planning a Second Fun Run for April 2023.
Naturally, the event had a special significance for Joel Reyes, principal of IAA, who volunteered at the run. For him, Elevate Kids Fun Run meant that “the community [was brought] together for an event like this, and the name of the school was associated with this.”
“It also meant support. I have a very supportive board chair this time, and this was very much his idea. The purpose of this is to start a junior academy in the Western Slope. That’s what we are fundraising and running and working for,” Reyes added.
Representing Kids Aid was Tessa Kaiser, executive director. “The run shows the community support for Kids Aid. Doug and Melinda wanted to do something to challenge themselves and make it about more than just themselves. They put this together to support Kids Aid and their child’s school,” she commented.
“We are really grateful for that. And it really shows how much the community understands the need [to address] childhood hunger,” she added.
The Fun Run was not the first fundraiser the McCaws have organized activities. In July 2020, the McCaws ran the entire Colorado Trail (490 miles from Durango to Denver) in 18 days. A documentary movie, “Chasing the Sky,” was created and seen by hundreds of people in local theaters. Proceeds from the film were split between IAA and Kids Aid.
In July 2022, the couple plans to rerun the Colorado Trail, attempting to break the fastest known time. Another documentary of the run will be created, which will be shown in theaters, with proceeds going to IAA and Kids Aid.
“Helping the kids in our community is why we work so hard to raise funds and awareness for the kids in the Grand Valley. We want to give everyone in the community an opportunity to support the kids through our events,” Doug and Melinda said.
Dana Ñkaña is a member of the Grand Junction Adventist Church. For him, joining the run is supporting children’s education. “You know, we have two children, and I’m always looking for ways to where our children can be better than us,” he explained.
“I grew up in Africa [and] there was nothing like this to help us when I was a kid. And so, with the opportunities that I have being here in this country, I feel that I am basically able to help other people to get to where they want to be,” he shared.
After completing his 10K run, Dana put his award around the neck of David Klemm. A medical condition put David into a wheelchair. “I did this because
David is a very good friend and I know his heart and his heart is with children. I know he currently volunteers to help children read. If he were able to be on two feet like I am, he would have been running,” Dana explained.
“And so, I run, and I gave him my award.”
If you are interested in supporting Elevate Kids and learning more about the organization or receiving updates on future events, sign up at elevatekids.org.
–Sandi Adcox is Grand Junction Adventist Church team member with Elevate Kids Run; Rajmund Dabrowski is editor of NewsNuggets.