A trio of local runners braved the hot weather this weekend to help raise money to build a school in a Guatemalan village.
 
Fort Saskatchewan was well-represented at the Expand Hope Foundation’s May 12 Mascots Race for Hope in Sherwood Park. Auggie the sheep and Fort Saskatchewan Christian School’s Titan joined the city’s newest mascot, Fort Saskatchewan Soccer’s Wally McBally, in a 200 metre dash against 23 other mascots.
 
All three achieved personal bests in the distance, with Titan making the podium in a third-place photo finish and Wally taking fifth. Auggie gave it his all as he sprinted across the finish line.
 
Race director Danielle Kath was impressed by Titan’s effort.
 
"He crushed it,” she said. “He ran so fast."
 
Fort Saskatchewan soccer vice president Kelly Yanch reported that Wally was pleased with his result.
 
“I think he was just there because it was a lot of fun,” she said.
 
Helping a community rebuild
 
The mascots race was part of the Expand Hope Foundation’s annual 5K and 10K road race, held this year at Sherwood Park Alliance church. Expand Hope is a nonprofit group working to improve educational opportunities for children in developing countries. All proceeds from the mascots event go to building a school in Chacalte, Guatemala, a community Expand Hope says is still rebuilding after a decades earlier civil war.
 
"Their story is quite beautiful,” Kath said of the village. “There is so much resilience that that one community has shown, specifically at the end of 1996, the end of the civil war."
 
During the conflict, Kath said, the village’s children fled to the safety of the jungle as their parents and older siblings were brutally murdered. Now grown, the children are moving back into the community and having families of their own.
 
“And they want their kids to have a better life than the life they had growing up. And so that's why we chose that community to build a school."
 
Donations from the race totalled $67,000, more than enough to cover the cost of the $60,000 three-classroom school. Expand Hope’s field partner, Food for the Hungry, will organize the logistics of the school construction, hiring engineers and builders local to the village.
 
Auggie and Wally crowd favourites
 
Auggie the sheep is the official mascot of Fort Saskatchewan, a city known for its summertime sheep-grazing program. Along with Wally and Titan, Auggie took time at Saturday’s race to cheer on the 5K and 10K runners, doling out high-fives and helping lead the athletes in some warm-up exercises.
 
Auggie and Wally were a hit with participants and spectators.
 
"They were both so interactive with the crowds. The kids loved both of those mascots," Kath said.
 
Auggie makes appearances at city events throughout the year. Wally, who has just started his first outdoor soccer season, will be at the Timbit Jamboree in Pryce Alderson Park in June.

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