A Perfect Match — A Kid Booster Anonymous Fund Story

Christine Bell was in the thick of planning a field trip to Orlando, Florida for the students in her marketing class at Naperville Central High School. Every year she takes 10th, 11th and 12th graders on a whirlwind trip where they can take seminars with some of the biggest names in entertainment – e.g. Disney, Universal Studios, Hard Rock Cafe – to see how the concepts they’ve learned in class get used in the real world.

“It’s huge,” she says. “It’s cool because we do this in class, and then they go see it, and you just see the light bulbs go on… like, oh my gosh, we totally get this now.”

A great opportunity… but only if you have the money to pay for it. The cost of the trip varies from year to year and is usually between $650 and $800.

A student Bell had known as a freshman from her involvement in DECA, Central’s business club, was struggling to find the funds to go on the trip. Like many people after 2008, her father had lost his job and was unable to find another one. Her mother was working two jobs but they were on the verge of losing their home. There was simply no money to pay for a class trip.

So Bell turned to NEF’s Kid Booster Anonymous Fund to help fill the gap.

Every year Bell has 2 or 3 students who need help to pay for the Orlando trip, and “every year NEF has come through,” she says. She used to have parents who would write extra checks to cover these students, but a few years ago” all that money kind of disappeared.” So she started applying for grants from NEF to cover part of the trip. “I require the kids to fundraise… your parents may not have the money but you can get on your two feet and go walk and sell something, you know, raise money… if they commit to fundraising, I will commit to writing a letter to NEF.”

So when Bell, an accomplished marathoner, was looking for a charity to run for and heard that NEF was putting together a team to run in the Naperville Marathon, she knew she had found her perfect match. “I saw the email about looking for charity runners, and I just knew, this was it. I had written those grant applications…as soon as I saw the email, I signed up immediately.”

Anyone can run for TEAM NEF. Bell has several friends running with her who don’t even live in the district. The only qualification is you must raise at least $300, although Bell sets her own goals much higher. She says that last year she got close to $2000 and is hoping to meet that goal this year. She gets many donations through social media. Also, she’s a native of New Orleans, and in the past she has held her own “Red Dress Run” here in Naperville to raise funds like the famous charity run that started in the Big Easy. People in red dresses will “run through town and end up back at my house for a party afterwards… it’s just something fun.”

Bell plays a bigger role in TEAM NEF than just fundraising. Having run in 39 marathons, Bell knows a thing or two about how to train for one. So as team trainer, she sends out emails with detailed plans that people can use – for free – when they sign up to run with Team NEF. Whether you’re running the full or half marathon, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced, she has a weekly running plan to get you to the finish line. She also offers three workouts a week where people can just show up – a speed workout on Tuesdays, a Thursday four mile fun run, and long runs on Saturdays.

Not every charity has a training program. Bell says it’s huge for “someone who just wants to run for charity… we’re offering a perk that the others aren’t.”

Every year Bell sees kids struggling financially in the middle of our well-to-do community. She knows firsthand the impact of NEF’s programs, from the Kid Booster Anonymous Fund that has helped her own students make the trip to Orlando to the Annual Grant Awards that provide innovative programs in the schools. Being able to say “thank you” by helping on TEAM NEF has been an incredible opportunity for this lifelong runner. “I get to give back now to an organization that gives to my students.”

Click Here if you would like to make a contribution to the Kid Booster Anonymous Fund

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