Video: Jimmy Sullivan Walk-A-Thon at Penn Wynne Elementary

The Jimmy Sullivan Walk-a-Thon has been held for 23 years in honor of a second-grade Penn Wynne student who died in 1990.

This week, hundreds of students participated in the 23rd Annual Jimmy Sullivan Walk-a-thon, each walking about two miles in a series of eight laps around their school.

Yes, the activity was headed up by a physical education teacher, but the Walk-a-thon is about much more than just exercise.

The event commemorates Jimmy Sullivan, a 7-year-old Penn Wynne student who died in 1990 while awaiting a heart and lung transplant.

Jimmy, who suffered from congenital heart disease, would have been entering his second grade year at the school.

Penn Wynne held the first Walk-a-thon in 1990 to help raise money for the Sullivan family's medical bills. When Jimmy died, the Penn Wynne community decided to continue the event, supporting a new children's charity each year.

"It just snowballed," said event organizer Kathleen Geiger, a physical education teacher at Penn Wynne.

Each year, Geiger said, the school receives about 25 nominations for charities from families in the community. The Home and School Association narrows that down to three, and takes the list to Jimmy's mom, who chooses the Walk-a-thon's beneficiary.

Since beginning the Walk-a-thon, the Penn Wynne community has raised almost $100,000 for various children's charities.

This year, the chosen children's charity is the chapter of Best Buddies, which works to build friends between students with disabilities and other students of the same age.

"The Best Buddies students are our own students, who have come up through Penn Wynne—so we're very connected with this one," Geiger said.

Each student walker solicits sponsors, asking family and neighbors to pledge a certain dollar value for each lap of the school the student completes.

And then, they walk.

Patch stopped by on Thursday to watch a first-grade, second-grade and two kindergarten classes participate in the Walk-a-thon. See them in action in the video above.


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