STERLING — The students, teachers, staff and parents of students at Houghton Elementary School exceeded the $20,000 goal for the Boosterthon fundraiser, held Thursday, Oct. 17, in the school gymnasium. The Boosterthon was first introduced three years ago as the primary fundraiser for the Houghton Parent Teacher Organization, replacing a magazine drive and other fundraisers.

“We felt that our audience no longer were interested in magazines, and it was a lot of work for about $8,000 profit,” said Bridget D’Amelio, who has been involved with the PTO for several years and has headed up the fundraiser since its inception at the school. “We decided on Boosterthon for the potential of a much higher profit, along with the children being able to participate in a fun event that promoted health and school spirit. This is our major fundraiser of the year, so all our efforts are in this fundraiser.”

A typical Boosterthon fundraiser program lasts about nine days and consists of four main parts: pep rally, team huddle, fun run, and collection of funds. Each parent and child team sets up an online account and uploads a photo of the student. Boosterthon creates a personalized video that they can send electronically to family and friends via email and social media. Each student gets pledges via the online portal and then participates in the fun run — the more laps he or she runs, the more donations are raised.

“Boosterthon has only 30 percent of funds coming from parents,” D’Amelio said. “It reaches a broader population and is less taxing on the parents. The response has been markedly positive. Parents were tired of selling products, and most sales were to parents. I think parents see how positive the experience is for their children, how much less work it is and like to come to the fun community event.”

D’Amelio and her family, including two children who have participated in the fundraisers, have lived in Sterling for 12 years. She was the Houghton PTO co-chair for three years, and secretary for two years prior to that, and said the Boosterthon company has been “extremely professional” to work with and very “responsive.”

“Their team members are energetic and bring such positivity to our school environment,” she said. “They exude school spirit, and the kids really connect with them.”

So far, this year's Boosterthon has netted $22,000 and counting. Over the past three years, a total of around $70,00 has been raised from the fun run events. The funds raised in previous years helped to purchase Chromebooks for each student at Houghton, and the PTO was able to redesign the school library and provide new books.

“We have been able to host extensive enrichment programs throughout the school year for each grade level, and we have hosted STEAM-related events and sent our grades on field trips,” D’Amelio said. “We have given each teacher funds for needed supplies. That is just some of the use of the money; it goes a long way.”

D’Amelio said the pep rally held prior to the fun run really helps get the students excited for the fundraiser. She goes with the Boosterthon representatives into the classrooms and is there, along with a large number of volunteers, at the fun run itself.

“I love being with the children,” she said. “Watching the kids become so invested and excited in the process and run is the best part. They have such pride in raising money for their school. Where the magazine drive and other fundraisers in the past tended to be the parents doing all the work, this event empowers the children to make it a success.”