When Jessica Stanley attended the National Association of Education of Young Children annual conference six years ago, she was looking for ways to enhance her students’ development. She also discovered a way to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Stanley, director of Newport Coast Child Development Preschool in Newport Beach, California, came across a St. Jude booth at the conference and learned about the St. Jude Trike-A-Thon program. Stanley brought the program to her school, and, since then, the event has raised nearly $97,000 for St. Jude. Last year, the school raised $23,218 for St. Jude, the second-highest total of any St. Jude Trike-A-Thon in the country.
The St. Jude Trike-A-Thon is a fun service learning program that teaches tricycle and riding toy safety, all while giving participants the chance to raise funds and awareness for St. Jude. The week-long program concludes with a celebration and trike ride for participants to show their families what they have learned.
"We love the idea of kids helping kids," said Stanley, who serves as her school’s St. Jude Trike-A-Thon coordinator. "At this age, they are so young that they don’t understand fully. All they do know is that they are riding their bikes because there are kids in the hospital they are trying to help."
The students at Newport Coast range in age from 2 to 5, and Stanley said they love participating in the trike ride at the end of the week.
"They are so disappointed when we tell them it is the last lap because they want to keep doing it," she said.
In July, Stanley was recognized as the St. Jude Trike-A-Thon Coordinator of the Year at the annual St. Jude Volunteer Awards Dinner in Memphis, Tennessee. She said the award reflected the commitment of the staff and parents at Newport Coast.
As part of the trip to Memphis, Stanley and Katsya Chernishov, her co-coordinator, toured St. Jude for the first time.
"We thought it was going to be a heavy, sad place to visit, and it was the exact opposite of that," Stanley said. "We are inspired to share that. We hope our ability to visit St. Jude, and share what an amazing place it is, will help us spread the word even more."