Industrial students run to raise money for West explosion victims (Video)
INEZ - Andrew Yarborough had a goal Tuesday morning - to run and walk 20 laps, or five miles, around the Industrial Elementary West track.
With 221 elementary classmates, Andrew, 7, aimed to raise money with the Laps of Love run/walk for those devastated by the West Fertilizer Co. explosion last month.
"It was horrible. It was bad. I wanted to help them," the first-grader said of the explosion, wiping sweat from his red hair with his bare hands.
Each lap around the track, Andrew excitedly paused at the starting line to shout his lap number to the school's principal, Dianne Juroske.
Each student was issued a running card and instructed to get a hole punched in their card each time they finished a lap.
"I just made 20 laps," he yelled, smiling as he stuck his hand in the air to high-five parents and classmates standing along the sidelines of the track.
"Great job," Juroske replied, encouraging him to stop for a drink of water.
Kindergarten, first- and second-grade students kicked off the run at the elementary school at 8:30 a.m., followed by third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students, who ran and walked from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
For each lap the students ran, dollars were pledged for West.
By the end of the first hour, the school raised more than $2,000, which will be paired with donations from Industrial Elementary East in Vanderbilt, which raised about $1,300 for the West community in recent weeks.
Juroske said she was motivated to organize the run/walk around the track when she learned of the April 17 explosion.
"We just wanted to do something to show the kids that every little thing they can do can help," the principal said. "I just saw the devastation of the families - and they lost everything - and wanted to do something."
The event brought out area parents, many of whom generated their own pledges for laps completed around the track.
Dr. Aaron and Whitney Wilfert of the Jackson County Vet Clinic attended the run with their children, Laurel, Emma and Bryce.
Whitney Wilfert said she was pleased to participate in an activity that teaches children about the sacrifice of serving others.
"This demonstrates to the children that sometimes giving is not financial. It's a sacrifice of time and physical body," she said.
Wilfert said she pledged $20 for each mile her husband ran, and her mother pledged money for each lap her three children completed.
"It's terrible what those people have to go through, and there's been a lot of support from small towns like this one trying to help them out," Aaron Wilfert said.
At the finish line, Andrew said he was happy to be a part of a fun event that helped many people.
"I ran for the kids and the grownups and helped them out," he said.