By LINDA IRELAND
Thirty-one preschoolers at Laugh-N-Learn daycare strapped on their biking helmets, hopped on their tricycles and pedaled for all they were worth to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
It’s the fifth year the daycare has participated in the Trike-A-Thon, an event that provides funding for research of catastrophic childhood diseases, primarily cancer.
The trikers are sponsored by their parents and family friends, who agree to donate a set amount for participation. In the past, money was donated “per lap,” but that method proved difficult to oversee, said Dorinda McFelia, assistant director and preschool teacher.
“They have 20 minutes to ride as long as they can,” McFelia said Oct. 1 as she watched the trikers circling the daycare’s parking lot.
St. Jude’s, founded by late entertainer Danny Thomas, treats about 260 patients each day. One child from LaRue County has been treated at the facility, according to the event’s organizers.
The daycare, owned by Michelle Becker, has raised more than $10,000 for the hospital since 2003. This month's event contributed $1,132.
Last fiscal year, Kentucky children raised nearly $200,000, according to St. Jude’s spokeswoman Shannon Carter. Besides Laugh-N-Learn, Kids Crew and Little Eden held fundraisers.
McFelia said the daycare taught basic bicycle and riding-toy safety in a weeklong series prior to the Trike-A-Thon. The children were introduced to Bikewell Bear, a puppet spokesperson for the program, and were provided coloring sheets and other educational materials.
The teachers also explained how the donations help other children at St. Jude’s.
The children received backpacks or T-shirts for participating.
For more information about the Trike-A-Thon, visit www.stjude.org/trike.