Yokota runs for fun and funds

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Declan Denny and Pazia Ramirez, both 4th graders,  sprint together during the 2010 Jog/Walk-a-thon, April 8. The Jog/Walk-a-thon was held to raise money for Joan K. Mendel Elementary School. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Katrina R. Menchaca)

Declan Denny and Pazia Ramirez, both 4th graders, sprint together during the Jog/Walk-a-thon, at Yokota Air Base, Japan, April 8, 2010. The Jog/Walk-a-thon was held to raise money for Joan K. Mendel Elementary School. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Katrina R. Menchaca)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Alyssa Montiel, 2nd grader, runs as she finishes her 12th lap during the 2010 Jog/Walk-a-thon, April 8. The Jog/Walk-a-thon was held to raise money for Joan K. Mendel Elementary School. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Katrina R. Menchaca)

Alyssa Montiel, 2nd grader, runs as she finishes her 12th lap during the Jog/Walk-a-thon, at Yokota Air Base, Japan, April 8, 2010. The Jog/Walk-a-thon was held to raise money for Joan K. Mendel Elementary School. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Katrina R. Menchaca)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Students from Mr. Gordon Giannotti's third grade class 'rock out' for runners, walkers and joggers during the 2010 Jog/Walk-a-thon, April 8. The Jog/Walk-a-thon was held to raise money for Joan K. Mendel Elementary School. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Katrina R. Menchaca)

Students from Mr. Gordon Giannotti's third grade class 'rock out' for runners, walkers and joggers during the Jog/Walk-a-thon, at Yokota Air Base, Japan, April 8, 2010. The Jog/Walk-a-thon was held to raise money for Joan K. Mendel Elementary School. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Katrina R. Menchaca)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Parents, teachers and students walk during the 2010 Jog/Walk-a-thon, April 8. The Jog/Walk-a-thon was held to raise money for Joan K. Mendel Elementary School. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Katrina R. Menchaca)

Parents, teachers and students walk during the Jog/Walk-a-thon, at Yokota Air Base, Japan, April 8, 2010. The Jog/Walk-a-thon was held to raise money for Joan K. Mendel Elementary School. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Katrina R. Menchaca)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- More than 520 students, teachers and parents walked, jogged and ran Yokota's fitness trail to raise money for Joan K. Mendel Elementary School here April 8.

The Joan K. Mendel Elementary Jog/Walk-a-thon is a yearly event designed to help the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) raise funds for the Fall Festival, Candy Cane Lane and other events they host throughout the year. 

This was the 30th anniversary of the Jog/Walk-a-thon which continues to be one of Yokota's most popular community events.

The Jog/Walk-a-thon was originally held in the neighborhood surrounding the school, but was moved to the fitness trail due to construction. Even with the move, regular participants say the traditions have remained the same.

"Mrs. Mendel was famous for driving around with a megaphone and shouting encouragement throughout the event," said Mrs. Mona Hegarty, school counselor and event supporter. "Now, our physical education teacher, Mr. Guest, continues this tradition by bicycle."

"I enjoy the fact that [the students] are coming out to raise money for their school," said Mr. Christopher Guest, JKMES physical education teacher and Jog/Walk-a-thon coordinator. "It teaches them about getting involved in their community."

Mrs. Teky Morales, Turbo Kick instructor, and her daughter Alex were one of the many parent-student pairs that joined the Jog/Walk-a-thon. They said that the event was a great opportunity for them to enjoy each other's company.

"We are getting a little winded but are not stopping because we are just having fun," said Mrs. Morales. "My daughter and I are  going to keep going until they blow the whistle and tell us it's time to come in."

Mr. Guest, who has been running the event for the last six years, said that as a physical education teacher, he also enjoys the fact that students are getting in shape while helping to raise more than 3,000 dollars for the PTO.

"It really is an honor for me to do this, to see the children out here running and continuing this great tradition," said Mr. Guest.