Originally published April 18, 2018 in the Houston Chronicle.
By Melanie Feuk
When their children were attending Pine Forest Elementary School, Steve and Paula Boone created a program that has lasted more than 25 years in Humble ISD.
Their program, called the Marathon Challenge, focused on two purposes — introducing children to the concept of marathons and encouraging the development of long-term goal setting.
In order to successfully meet the challenge and earn a t-shirt, elementary students must complete a total of 26.1 miles during the school year.
Twenty-six years later on April 10, the Boones stood before the Humble ISD school board having been invited by Humble ISD elementary school physical educators to receive a heartfelt token of appreciation.
“Last year, 10,200 students received a t-shirt in our district,” said Helen Wagner, PE and health coordinator for Humble ISD. “Quite an accomplishment from 14.”
The Boones were handed a gift bag from which they pulled out a large quilt.
“Janet Russo is one of our PE teachers and her mother is a quilter and so what she has done is she has made a quilt out of many — now we don’t have every single one, but we have many of the t-shirts that were presented to the children every year into a beautiful homemade quilt,” Wagner said. “We celebrate our marathon stars.”
Paula Boone has run over 300 marathons and Steven Boone has completed more than 700. The couple has helped promote marathon-centered initiatives on national, and international levels.
The Humble ISD Marathon Challenge program and t-shirts are funded by proceeds from the annual Texas Marathon the Boone’s run each New Year’s Day in Kingwood.
Although the Boone’s have received significant recognition for their many accomplishments, this token of gratitude presented by Humble ISD elementary school physical education staff members left them both with beaming smiles.
“This is just amazing,” Paula Boone said. “This is so fun.”
School board members Martina Dixon and Robert Sitton have children who have earned Marathon Challenge t-shirts.
“In today’s time, so many kids spend too much time behind a computer or video game and what you’ve started — your foresight from way back — I just appreciate what you have done,” Sitton said.
Fagen elaborated on that concept of foresight in context with what the education community is learning about benefits of activity and learning.
“There’s a lot of new research coming out about the fact that movement is actually related to learning and that’s something that we didn’t necessarily know, but we’ve learned so much about education in the last about 10 years, maybe even fewer, about the way the brain works and the way learning is really all connected to so much more than just sitting there being a container,” Fagen said. “So to have students motivated to learn and move and those things being connected together is very exciting.”
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