|A West Running Brook students seems to be walking on air as he enters the rotary crosswalk.|
By CAROL ROBIDOUX
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – DJ Doug Boucher was counting down to the official start of this year's Walk with West 5k Walk-a-thon. He kept one eye on the clock as he scrolled through his playlist.
“Eight minutes to go,” said Boucher, who when not pumping up an energized adolescent crowd with a series of motivational hits, is teaching math at West Running Brook middle school. His strategy for keeping the mood upbeat was simple.
“I've got songs about walking and songs about winning – that's pretty much my plan,” said Boucher, cranking up “Walking on Sunshine” as stragglers hit the registration table and picked up their purple “Walk With West” T-shirts.
The second-annual fund-raising walk was expected to raise $4,000 which will be used by the school's Kids Care Club to buy gift cards that will help school families in need this holiday season.
|Joe Lagasse and Nicole Setzer shared an iPod and earbuds for the walk.|
With just minutes to spare, sixth-graders Joe Lagasse and Nicole Setzer tested the sound on Joe's iPod – their plan was to share the earbuds and walk in synch.
“I think we can do it,” said Setzer, who had already considered that it might not be as easy as she thinks to walk at a brisk pace while wired to a friend.
Boucher rallied the crowd of about 100 walkers one last time for a little stretching.
“We're going to kick things off with the “Hokey Pokey,” Everyone – teachers too – get into small groups and follow along,” Boucher said, over the sound system.
Several limbered up arms, legs and whole selves later, Boucher counted backwards from 10, officially launching the colorful group, decked in school colors of purple and orange, into the community. A small group of kids had decided to run the whole way, and they were off – shadowed closely by Special Ed teacher Kellie Marraffa.
Everyone else made their way down the hill and onto South Main Street, causing only a little commotion at the traffic rotary as they passed through the swirl of five-lane traffic, sort of like a sloppy synchronized swim, minus the water.
Crossing guard Vincent Perrella did his best to hold driver's at bay, but was happier when Derry police Officer Peter Houlis showed up to block the flow of traffic with his cruiser.
“That makes it a little easier,” said Perrella.
|Bernard Suwirjo was the first walkathoner back to home base.|
From there it was up Pinkerton Street to Tsienneto Road, then left onto Crystal Avenue, all the way to Broadway, back toward the traffic circle and up South Main to the school, where the strains of “Sweet Caroline” filled the air as Bernard Suwirjo made his way up the hill, leading the pack and barely breaking a sweat.
So good, so good, so good.
Right behind him were the rest of the runners, mostly student athletes who decided to add some challenge to what was already a lot of fun.
“It was hard, but I would do it again because it's for a really good cause,” said Ben Sayward.
“I want to point out that I was the only girl who ran,” said Julia Bousquet, who said running a 5k wasn't as hard as she thought it would be.
“It was actually a lot of fun,” said Julia. “Did I mention I was the only girl who ran?”
Students were required to raise at least $15 each to participate and get a T-shirt, which were made by CK Productions of Pelham, at cost. Several local businesses also supported the students' efforts, including Backmann Florists, East Derry Tire and Auto, Sunview Glass Tinting, Summit Records Management Service and Derry Sports & Rehab.