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Fundraising made fun

Locations: News Published

After a two-year hiatus in fundraising, Basalt Middle School (BMS) is excited to launch a new annual event – and it’s not selling magazines.

Digging deep, Principal Jennifer Ellsperman references school values to explain their shift in fundraising efforts.

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“Fundraisers in the past [entailed] a lot of plastic toys that kids would eventually throw away, and a lot of candy and money,” she says, delicately. “It would create this whole frenzy around the prizes. Even though it raised good money for the school, it didn’t really support our values around health and wellness and really turning out students who are good citizens.”

Instead of door to door sales – not necessarily a comfortable fit for all kids – BMS is hosting a Bike-A-Thon, May 16 to May 20, tapping the recreation spirit of the valley.

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Aligning with Basalt Elementary School’s Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot and Basalt High School’s Color Run, the Bike-A-Thon is the brain-child of BMS’s new Parent Engagement Group. A collection of student parents dedicated to supporting the school through volunteerism, teacher support and fundraising, they meet with the administration to discuss school needs and how to help support staff and fill gaps in both manpower and funds. Brook Portman is one such parent.

“We have a significant biking community here, so it’s a better solution for everyone,” she explains, “and we hit all aspects – the mountain bikers, road bikers, even stationary bikes. It includes introverts, extroverts.”

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“The children are our future,” says Ellsperman, “and their needs are greater than ever, just like everyone’s seem to be because of the pandemic. We have major academic needs. We have major social-emotional needs.”

Portman also notes that “there is no budget for teacher appreciation, which is critical to teacher retention,” an ongoing issue throughout the region. Listing off housing costs, stagnant salaries, and ever-dwindling budgets for out-of-pocket classroom costs, the Parent Engagement Group recognizes the toll these take on teachers. Portman also lists the cost of field trips, assemblies and guest speakers that benefit students and expand their awareness and connectivity, building strong future leaders.

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As such, Portman is excited to attempt ten miles along the Rio Grande with her kids, ages eight and eleven, one of whom has only recently conquered a fear of biking. “We’ll see how we do!” she laughs.

Will Ellsperman be participating in the Bike-A-Thon, too?

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“Yes!” the principal exclaims. “I got out on Saturday to suss out my ride,” she says, describing popular mountain routes nearby. “There are bluebells all over the place! I’ll probably do a ride with my husband Stephen, and I’ll probably do another ride with all the girls. We have this group text with about 13 of us on it who like to get out and mountain bike. There’s plenty of time; we have a week!”

BMS is shooting to raise $10,000 through registration fees. Adults pay $20, youth are $10, and the family or group rate is capped at $50.  Register online at for a 1-mile, 10-mile, or 25-mile distance, and choose your own adventure. With several business sponsors on board, the first 150 people to register will snag a sweet swag gift. All registrants are included in a raffle of delightful, locally-sponsored prizes.

Post Bike-A-Thon photos online to help spread the stoke. Enlist your friends and family and get out there; spring is calling – and the kids and teachers deserve it.

Tags: #Basalt Middle School #bikes #Fundraising
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