Originally published Jan. 12, 2020 in Houma Today.

By Mike Gegenheimer

Jill Parfait just wanted to bring her class on a field trip to Avery Island seven years ago.

Parfait was looking for a way to raise money for her class at Acadian Elementary. As an avid runner herself, what she came up with was the Mudbug 5K.

The first run was a success but it was never supposed to go any further. It was a one-year event to help raise some money for a field trip.

But almost a decade later the race is an annual staple of the Acadian Elementary school year, helping raise money for various school projects and improvements, such as classroom technology, physical education equipment or, as is the case this year, an expansion of the school playground.

The 7th annual Mudbug 5K will be held on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 8:30 a.m. Entry is open to the entire community and all proceeds go back to the school.

“It was meant to be a one-year thing at first and then we just kept doing it every year,” Parfait said. “Now it’s important more than ever to continue it just to bring the community into our school and help it grow. At the end of the day our goal is to help the kids any way we can. We want the best for our kids.”

Over the years the Mudbug 5K has grown to roughly 300 people from the local community. The $15 entry fee (which increases to $20 after Jan. 16) is intentionally set as one of the lowest of any race in the area in a conscious attempt to not price out families who want to run together.

The race has stayed relatively the same each year. The course begins at the school and winds through the district its students come from.

“It was just awesome (from the first year),” Parfait said. “You see parents and their kids walking and running and then community members. It’s what everything should be in our parish. We should come together because that’s what makes change.”

Parfait said the secondary reason for the event, next to raising money for the students, is that it helps introduce people to a small elementary school many people aren’t familiar with.

Acadian Elementary is a small school on the east side of the Intracoastal Waterway. With less than 1,000 students in pre-K through 4th grade, Parfait said many people don’t realize the school is even there.

The Mudbug 5K, for many, is an introduction to what the school has to offer.

“A lot of people don’t even know where our school is,” she said. “This is a great opportunity for them to come see our school on the east side of Houma.”

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