Walk-A-Thon Changes Through the Years

By J1 Reporter Maddie Balus

Imagine it is the Fall of 1991, and you and your friends are talking about your class goals while waiting for the start of the 6-mile trek. You all beat your school goal of $40,000 and whispered about who was going to get the cash prize. Today, Walk-a-Thon looks and brings a different type of energy than during its first years. Rules, goals, distance, and “uniform” for WAT is nowhere near the same. 

Setting out on their way for the annual Walk-A-Thon are members of the senior class. Photo from 1995 Yearbook

Walk-A-Thon (WAT) was started in the fall of 1984 to help students with school tuition, but also to gain exercise and connections with the community. From 1984 to the late 1990s, most ideas and rules stayed the same. Everyone walked 6 miles (10 km) and was mostly based on money per mile. There was no unifying t-shirt worn by the student body, until about 2003. Compared to today, there were bigger individual prizes handed out, like more gift cards from the top brands and restaurants and even cash money could be given as the top prize. 

Mr. Mark Koesters, theology teacher, said, “Everything was different,” when comparing his WAT past to the present. 

Koesters was the Student Board moderator from the spring of 1990 to 1994. During this time, the idea of WAT took a turn with new rules and how the layout would be. The walk would become shorter and the competition to be top class increased with Field Day becoming a part of WAT in the late 1990s-2000s. The rule states that the class standings in WAT determines the order that the classes go in to choose one of their colors for Field Day, a controversial topic and rule change at the time. Not all teachers and staff thought the new rule was a good idea.

The numbers and competitive spirit have increased too. From a school wide goal of $35,000 to $95,000, each year has picked up the pace to raise more money for the students and the school. 

“We have more spirit and intensity between classes now. It is laid back and more efficient,” Koesters said. 

The competition and the fight for the individual prizes has not stopped students supporting different grade levels. Everyone builds each other up through encouragement because the student body wants everyone to succeed, which creates a close environment within the school. This has become easier to do, since today’s students do not have to pledge per mile on their own. 

Even though the details of WAT have changed throughout the years, the overall purpose of the student-run fundraiser has not. The student body has given more opportunities with the money raised and have given future Marian girls opportunities to attend. 

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