Spirit Run “Dash for Cash” invites schools to rally for fundraisers

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For the last 33 years, Spirit Run has been a fundraiser for schools in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD). This year, Spirit Run is inviting schools outside NMUSD to sign up for its “Dash for Cash” fundraiser so they can share in its fun and its funds.

“Dash for Cash” is simple. The more students, families and supporters who register and run for a school registered for “Dash for Cash,” the more money the school raises.

Many schools participate in See’s Candies, wrapping paper, and/or dine-out fundraisers. School supporters purchase from a business. The business pays the school a percentage (typically 10-25 percent) of what school supporters spend, keeping the rest.

“Dash for Cash” is similar, but better. Spirit Run pays “Dash for Cash” schools a minimum of 25 percent, and as much as 45 percent, of registration fees paid by school supporters. Also, the percentage of the registration fees the school doesn’t receive benefits other children, not a for-profit business. Even better, “Dash for Cash” schools are promoting health and fitness, as well as school and community spirit.

“Dash for Cash” seemed like a logical choice for Newport Beach’s Harbor Day and Our Lady Queen of Angels (OLQA) schools. Many of their students have been participating in Spirit Run for years. With an invitation to become an official part of the event, why wouldn’t they join the fun and earn a commission on their school’s entry fees?

Spirit Run approached Karen Parks, an OLQA substitute teacher. As a mother of two children who attended Newport Beach public schools, Parks’ family has been participating in Spirit Run for more than 15 years. She was an organizer of Eastbluff Elementary’s running program that trained students for Spirit Run.

Parks enthusiastically advocated for “Dash for Cash” stating, “I wanted OLQA to sign up for ‘Dash for Cash’ because Spirit Run is a very fun community event that focuses on youth fitness. The students at OLQA are very involved in athletics and I know they will love being involved in the Spirit Run. Of course, the added benefit is that it is a great fundraiser for the school.”

Attracting schools outside Newport-Mesa seemed more challenging. In most cases, cold calling was the only tactic. But in one case, Spirit Run sought help from another long-time friend.

(L-R): TJ and Tony Saglembeni, Spirit Run 2012

Tony Saglembeni, a member of Newport Beach’s Cal Coast Track Club, has been competing at Spirit Run since the early 2000s. The last 10 years, he’s run alongside his 12-year-old son TJ. TJ and his 6-year-old twin brothers attend schools in Capistrano Unified.

Saglembeni embraced the concept and approached the principal of Tijeras Creek Elementary. “Tijeras Creek was excited to learn that Spirit Run, through the ‘Dash for Cash’ program, would now financially benefit any school willing to participate, not just those in Newport-Mesa Unified,” he said. “When Principal Diann Buckingham learned about ‘Dash for Cash,’ she did not hesitate to sign up the school. It’s a win-win for the kids and the schools.”

As a Spirit Run enthusiast, Saglembeni recognizes that it’s about more than money. He and his wife Mel started a running program to train students for Spirit Run.

“Spirit Run offers the Tijeras Creek students the opportunity to set and achieve personal goals, improve their physical fitness, all while benefitting the school financially,” Saglembeni explained. “We are all looking forward to the kids going out and trying their best at the race, and they of course are excited about getting a chance to climb the rock wall and do the bungee trampoline!”

Two TIjeras Creek elementary coaches and their children. Mel Saglembeni and her sons Dylan and Justin shown on the right

Schools to date who have signed up to participate in “Dash for Cash” outside of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District include Harbor Day School in Newport Beach, St. John the Baptist in Costa Mesa and Don Juan Avila Elementary School in Aliso Viejo.

It’s not too late to sign up! To learn more, visit Spirit Run’s website http://nmspiritrun.org/about-us/. You can also email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..