Team NEF races in Healthy Driven 5K, half marathon for school fundraising

Emma Orend, Correspondent

Team NEF, which represents the Naperville Education Foundation, participated in the Healthy Driven 5K and half marathon on Oct. 17. The event is sponsored by Edward Elmhurst Health.

The team, composed of over 250 parents, students, staff and community members of District 203, ran or walked through downtown Naperville to fundraise for schools. 

While each participant commits to raising a minimum of $203, runners often exceed this mark. 

“A lot of runners raise way more than that,” NEF Executive Director Wendy Goettsch said. “We have some runners that raise over $1,000, which is amazing.”

Half of the money each individual raised will be donated to their school of choice, while the remaining half is given to the foundation to fund district-wide initiatives. These include before and after-school programs, financial aid and grants for both students and teachers.

We have some runners that raise over $1,000, which is amazing.”

— Wendy Goettsch

“What we do goes over and beyond the district’s budget,” Goettsch said. “We’re sort of the icing on the cake.” 

This event offers more than fundraising. It is an opportunity for the community to come together and reconnect.

“There was a nice group of us that walked together and just shared stories about our families, and we got to know each other in a setting other than school,” said Laura Noon, principal of Highlands Elementary school. “Honestly, that’s my favorite part about this event, as well as raising money to help our families and kids in need.”

The team, founded eight years ago, serves as one of NEF’s main fundraising groups. Though small at the start, the current number of participants has exceeded the foundation’s expectation.

“The first year that we did it, we only had 15 runners,” Goettsch said. “Each year, more people tell their friends or family members how fun it was and how much they personally gained from it, so it just continues to grow.” 

This year, the event is reinstituting its in-person option while still including the virtual alternative used for last year’s race.

“I was happy to have the chance to participate [last year], but I’m looking forward to being able to race in-person again,” Noon said.