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Competitive runner-eaters attempt ‘Donut Challenge’ to support teachers, students in need

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Could you scarf down a donut halfway through a 5K and continue running after the mid-race sugar fix? How about a dozen donut holes?

More than 300 people attempted the “Donut Challenge” Saturday morning at the Circle City Donut Dash 5K in Indianapolis.

Several competitive runner-eaters said they were motivated by the opportunity to support a good cause, while others admitted they simply wanted a shot at winning a race medal, gift cards and, yes, even more donuts. 

Proceeds from the annual event, emceed by News 8’s Randy Ollis, will benefit Teachers’ Treasures, organizers said.

The Indianapolis-based non-profit was founded in 2000 by a retired school principal seeking to help needy and at-risk children succeed in school.

Teachers’ Treasures partners with local businesses, charitable foundations, neighborhood organizations and individual contributors to collect and distribute school supplies to teachers in Marion County and surrounding school districts.

“Every day at public, private, charter and parochial schools located throughout Marion County, children of all ages attend class without the most basic supplies they need to get a good education,” the organization said. “Dedicated teachers are often willing to pay for these much-needed supplies out of their own pockets to make sure the kids in their classrooms have the necessary tools to learn. On average, teachers spend $800 to $1,200 a year on school supplies for their students.”

Approximately 94 percent of public school teachers reported paying for school supplies without reimbursement during the 2014-2015 academic year, according to a study released in 2018 by the National Center of Education Statistics. 

Margaret Sheehan, the executive director of Teachers’ Treasures, said education funding challenges created “a very difficult time” for teachers nationwide and touted the importance of keeping passionate educators in the classroom.

“We need these young teachers to stay in the industry [and] on their career path,” Sheehan told News 8 at Saturday’s race. “For every dollar we make today, we’re able to give away $15 in school supplies. That’s a lot of pencils.”

She encouraged Donut Dash participants to honor memorable teachers by writing their names on a donut-themed poster ahead of the race.

Almost every runner could recall their favorite grade school teacher within seconds, as well as ways they had impacted their lives and careers.

Mayor Joe Hogsett — dressed in a lime green donut T-shirt and matching donut beanie — smiled as he listed Mrs. Ellison, Mr. Baker and Mr. Hodge as his favorite instructors.

The first grade teacher, junior high school social studies teacher and high school history teacher each played an important role in shaping his academic interests and career goals, he told News 8. 

“I had so many teachers that have been positive role models in my life,” Hogsett said. “Does it surprise anybody that I ended up majoring in political science and history, and have used that education to pursue public service?” 

Experienced educators do more than teach, the mayor added; they instill hope in their students.

Hogsett lamented the plight of “young people in our community who don’t have that hope,” as well as teachers who remain “unrecognized and underpaid.”

“It’s the teachers who are the front line,” he said. “Probably more so than the mayor or anyone else. Anything we can do to support them will make Indianapolis a better city in the future.”

TEACHERS’ TREASURES: GET INVOLVED

Learn more about volunteering with Teachers’ Treasures on their website.

Sign up to host a supply drive by emailing organizers or calling (317) 264-1758.

Donate new school supplies and gently used items at the organization’s Indianapolis headquarters at 1800 E 10th St during the following times:
Monday – Friday 
8:00 a.m. – 3:45 p.m.