by: BARBARA SHERMAN - A GOOD CAUSE - Laurel Ridge Middle School eighth-graders Arjun Vijay (left) and Delaney Palmer are two of six leadership class students planning the April 27 Mosquito March 5K Walk/Run to raise money for Medical Teams International to purchase mosquito nets for African families to prevent malaria.The Laurel Ridge Middle School leadership class has taken on a very ambitious project – raising money for Medical Teams International to purchase mosquito nets for families in Africa to prevent the spread of malaria.

Students are hoping for a huge communitywide turnout at the “Mosquito March” 5K Run/Walk set for Saturday, April 27.

The entry fee is $25 for adults and $20 for students 15 and under, and after planning got underway, the class learned that an anonymous donor will match every $1 with $5, so, for example, a $25 entry fee becomes a $125 donation.

The leadership team visited MTI’s exhibit in Tigard that vividly recreates the grim conditions in refuge camps and villages where many Africans live, which propelled the students to turn the fundraiser into a big success.

They learned that malaria is the leading cause of death among children in Africa and that every 60 seconds a child there dies from a malaria infection.

According to eighth-graders Delaney Palmer and Arjun Vijay, the leadership class held its first 5K run/walk last year, called the Haiti Hustle to raise funds for victims of that country’s horrible earthquake, and while the turnout of 80 people was somewhat disappointing, money was raised, and the class got some experience under its belt.

Last spring, LRMS students voted on whether this year’s fundraiser would benefit Haiti again or MTI, and they voted for the mosquito net project.

As the walk/run gets closer, leadership students will go to all the classrooms in the school to show a “really powerful” video about the malaria situation in Africa and promote the event.

“We started planning a few weeks ago,” Arjun said in mid-March. “We know we have to promote it to get a good turnout. We also are asking local businesses to donate money to pay for the expenses so that all the money raised can go toward mosquito nets.”

Everyone who registers by Thursday, April 18, will get a free T-shirt, and runners also will get chips to track their personal time on the course.

Delaney added, “We are using some things we learned from last year. The route will be pretty similar to last year – around the school area – but we are making some changes and turning it into one big loop.”

According to the duo, six leadership students make up the committee planning the event, and everyone has a specific job, such as promotions or getting donations for food and water.

Delaney and Arjun definitely want to see higher numbers this year: “Two hundred to 300 would be extremely good,” Arjun said. “This has a lot of potential.”

Delaney pointed out that last year, some people paid more than the required fee, which raised the total amount of money donated.

People are asked to register online at for the walk/run, which begins and ends at Laurel Ridge Middle School, 21416 S.W. Copper Terrace.

On the day of the event, registration and packet pick-up will take place between 8 and 8:45 a.m., and the walk/run starts at 9 a.m.

For more information, email or call leadership teacher Jaime Rice at 503-825-5842.

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