Ready, set, go: Registration is open for Foundation of La Jolla High School 5K fundraiser

Runners who opt for the "photo finish" in the Viking 5K Charge can run through the tunnel that is used at football games.
Runners who opt for the “photo finish” in the Viking 5K Charge can run through the tunnel that is used at football games and get their photo taken completing the run.

As the San Diego Unified School District makes plans to return students to in-person instruction, the Foundation of La Jolla High School is giving the school and community something else to put on their calendar: a virtual Viking 5K Charge fundraiser.

The virtual Viking 5K, intended to be the foundation’s sole fundraiser for the year, can be run (or walked) anytime and anywhere, but a “photo finish” will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 15-16, offering the opportunity to run through the tunnel that Vikings football players normally run through at games, plus get a photo to keep.

Registration is open now and costs $45 per first runner in a family and $20 for every subsequent runner. Those who want to support the foundation but not participate in the 5K can sponsor a teacher or student facing financial difficulties for $20.

“We see the school as an extension of our family, so since we are charging $20 for family members, that made sense,” said event co-chairwoman Cheryl Saenz.

This is one of the suggested routes for the Viking 5K Charge fundraising run.
This is one of the suggested routes for the Viking 5K Charge fundraising run.

“We have suggested routes, but the 5K could be run anywhere,” Saenz said. Should runners want a premapped course and participate in the photo finish, they must select a certain time to cross the finish line in order to have social distancing.

The team or club that registers the most members gets $250 from proceeds. The rest goes into the foundation’s general fund, which pays for what the district can’t or what is outside the scope of what it would normally fund.

Foundation Executive Director Dana Irwin said the services it covers “run the gamut every year” but often involve supplementing district-paid hours so some teachers, nurses and counselors can work full time.

“We’re such a college-oriented school, so the counselors are really busy with college letters of recommendation, application assistance, etc., so having four full-time counselors is huge for us,” Irwin said. “But the general fund gives us the flexibility and the funds to pay for things like bike racks so the students don’t have to drive to school, a few thousand dollars’ worth of library books and a female security guard to assist with issues in places like the girls’ restroom or locker room.”

In coming up with a fundraiser, the foundation didn’t feel right reaching out to businesses that also were struggling to seek their help through donations for a dinner and/or an auction and didn’t want to sell tickets to a gala without knowing when or whether people would be able to gather in person, according to event co-chairwoman Keri Riney.

“We came up with a 5K because all of our students can be a part of raising funds for their school and programming as well as former Vikings and those that live in the area,” she said. “It’s a healthy thing for people to get out and move their bodies, and it’s something that is accessible to everyone.”

“We have support from all the [La Jolla public] schools, and it’s been really positive and feels good to be connected and supported,” Riney added.

To learn more, donate or register, go to ◆