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We run for Kaden: Students step up to the challenge, and keep a classmate’s memory alive

STERLING – Kaden Beer did everything that was asked of him, loved playing with his buddies, and was quite active. 

“Since second grade, he had been one of those kids who always smiles,” Lincoln School PE teacher Brenda Gould said. “You ask him to do something, he does it. He was just a positive role model, and was always an inspiration to kids.” 

Gould and her fellow teachers and students were shocked and saddened when the 10-year-old died Oct. 6 of injuries suffered in a bicycle accident.

After hearing about a P.E. run/walk program at a workshop, Gould set up a program at her school that would honor the memory of Kaden. Its goal: to get kids to walk or run 100 miles by the end of the school year.

Students – about 75 on any given day – walk before school, during lunch recess, and around the block after school. Their numbers have grown since the program started Dec. 8, even though the winter weather has presented a challenge.  

As of Tuesday morning, three fifth-graders had logged more than 40 miles: Jubraan Alkhalaf (45 miles), Joseph Holcomb (44), and Robert Stoffer (52).

Robert was there on day one, and got to 24 miles before stopping for a while. He’s since picked his running back up, and surpassed Holcomb last week to become the school’s leader in miles. 

“I get to spend time with my friends while I’m running,” Robert said. “I also like to run a lot.”

Jubraan, who said he can be a little “lazy” sometimes, hasn’t shied away from the challenge – and he hasn’t shied away from people either. He’s made at least three new friends just by taking part in the walks. 

“I’m trying to lose weight,” Jubraan said. “You get to meet lots of new people, and you get to run with your friends and talk to them.”

Four laps around the block equals 1 mile. Gould, who stands on a corner most mornings, hands out Popsicle sticks to denote how many miles kids have racked up, and the sticks are given to their teachers, who mark them on a leaderboard. 

Students who walk 25 miles get a “We run for Kaden” T-shirt, that also has his final 1-mile fitness time of 9 minutes, 52 seconds.

Robert has a check in blue next to a 50-mile box.

Gould hopes the program helps the kids stay active over the winter, when P.E. is offered only twice a week.

It’s also keeping Kaden’s memory alive, Gould said.

“He had a lot of buddies in his class that were devastated with this accident, and this is our little part to try to keep his memory alive at Lincoln School, and remind the kids of how great a kid Kaden was.”