Lakewood Ranch High School students Emma Semple, Sarah Dill and a group of their friends are on a race against time.
With the help of their collective 2,000 Twitter followers, school announcements and other means, they hope to generate at least 300 registrations for this year’s Take Stock in Children 10K/5K/Fun Run March 6.
Doing so will designate one Take Stock in Children Manatee scholarship to a student from their school. They want it to honor their friend, Brendan Shreve, who died in a car accident in October.
“We’ve wanted to do something for a long time, but didn’t know what,” said Semple, who also said their participation in the race would honor three other students who died this year in accidents as well.
Sarah’s mother, Diana, is the executive director for Take Stock.
“The fact the kids at Lakewood Ranch want to do this for the friends they’ve lost is fabulous,” race director Bethany Lynch said. “It achieves the goal Take Stock has and it gives these kids who are grieving something positive to focus on.”
Take Stock’s seventh annual race takes place on Lakewood Ranch Main Street. Every school in Manatee County is being encouraged to register at least 300 people, whether participating live or virtually.
“The goal is if you have 300 registrations, we would raise nearly enough to fund the amount needed for Manatee County’s portion of the scholarship,” Lynch said.
Last year, Take Stock received 300 applications to participate in its program, but it awarded 28 scholarships, each valued at about $9,000. Those dollars are matched by the Florida Prepaid Scholarship program and cover the costs for 120 credit hours, a bachelor’s degree, from a Florida college or university.
In year’s past, Take Stock has awarded a scholarship to the school that brings the highest number of registrations, per elementary, middle and high school level, to its race.
The annual race accounts for about half of all scholarship dollars raised by the organization. Last year, it raised about $100,000.
Dill said about 3,000 children in the East County area qualify for the program.
“The need is great in our own backyard,” Dill said. “We have such a great opportunity in the east area because we are blessed with people who would want to mentor those children.”
Take Stock of Manatee boasts a 96% success rate for seeing its participants graduate from high school and enrolling in post-secondary education.