AUBURN, Mass. - Fifth grader Robyn Zicuis and her classmates at Auburn’s Swanson Road Intermediate School ran their version of a turkey trot in early November, raising money each lap they walked or ran.
From the outside, it might look like your typical gym class, but these laps brought in big bucks.
"I ran, I think six laps," Zicuis said.
"I was able to raise $882," Ava Candelaria said.
In total, Ann Shane's gym class raised about $10,000 for Pride 'N Purpose. The organization supports children and schools in South Africa.
"I realized as a teacher I have this army of students to help me make a difference for these kids," Shane said. The difference this money makes is absolutely incredible. I've seen it first-hand. "
Shane has visited the country almost every year since 2005.
"It changed my life," Shane said. "I met some children and their joy and kindness just overwhelmed me. When I went home, I thought, I have so much they have so little."
Sixteen years later and this fundraiser is still going strong. This year, they've collected more money than ever before. Zicuis said she's proud of herself and her classmates for their hard work.
"They've always worked hard at it, but this year it was something special," Shane said.
The extra money comes at a time when the communities Shane’s class is supporting are struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"There's medical issues they are going to need support for,” Shane said. “Simple things like masks. Getting masks to all the kids. I hope they realize the difference they've made."