by: David F. Ashton The 5K participants are off and running.

Participants just come for the fun run. Volunteers behind the scenes work for months planning the run, to help students get a more well-rounded education at Sellwood Middle School.

On October 24, everyone came together for the 'Sellwood 5K'.

'Welcome to 'year four' of our event,' smiled Lanell Nolf, its organizer.

'This is a fundraiser for the Sellwood Middle School Foundation,' Nolf explained. 'It raises money to help support staff for mainly elective programs.

She got involved, Nolf added, because her boys were involved in the school's band. 'When budgets are cut in the school system, I don't want them to cut our band program at Sellwood. It's usually the elective courses that are cut first; I'm involved because I want to make sure that we keep the good programs that we have.'

At least 20 volunteers helped present the run this year, Nolf revealed. 'These volunteers helped us get many of our sponsors; we've about $7,000 in sponsorships. We had 250 people pre-registered, and are expecting a total of 300 to participate. In total, we're looking to raise about $10,000 - it's our Foundation's biggest fundraiser of the year.'

After a brief warm-up, the little kids were given the opportunity to race around the school's athletic field before the big run started.

Principal Charlene Russell helped at the registration table. 'It's a fabulous community event. It brings together community members, parents, relatives, students, and businesspeople, all for the benefit of Sellwood Middle School. We're thankful for all the supportive people here today.'

At 10 am, the runners, joggers, and walkers lined up at the starting gate and were off, heading eastward on the Springwater Trail to the designated turn-around point, and then back to the school.

It didn't take all that long for the 'winner' - although it's not billed as a competitive event - to arrive at the finish line: It was Sam Lomax, who attended Sellwood Middle School and is now a freshman at Central Catholic, and a star runner.

As organizers looked at all the happy faces, and contemplated the funds generated in support of the school's programs, they agreed among themselves that everyone participating in this year's 'Sellwood 5K' left as a winner.

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