Published on Mon., March 27, 2023

Hillcats mascot Southpaw with students at school read-a-thon event

It’s a bright Friday afternoon, and the blacktop at T. C. Miller Elementary School for Innovation is alive with activity. Students clutching ice cream pops chat energetically with friends and swarm their special guest, the Lynchburg Hillcats’ furry mascot Southpaw. It’s a gleeful celebration, and for good reason—T. C. Miller Elementary students read for a total of 149,181 collective minutes and raised $7,804 for their Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) in the first two weeks of March.

They’re not the only school celebrating. Bedford Hills Elementary School, Paul Munro Elementary School, and Robert S. Payne Elementary School had “Read-A-Thons” of their own this month. The four elementary schools read for a combined 512,109 minutes and raised a total of $44,110 for their PTOs.

Student holding book and stuff animal
Students eating ice treats outside

“Each school has been so creative promoting literacy education and has made reading so much fun,” said PTO Connect coordinator and parent volunteer Megan Huffman. “The engagement of families and friends through fundraising is an amazing byproduct that helps fund critical PTO programming.”

In the past, LCS Read-A-Thon funds have been used for flexible classroom seating options, new gym and playground equipment, classroom supplies, and more. Schools all over the world participate in the Read-A-Thon challenge every year. Bedford Hills Elementary first joined their ranks in 2020, and the three other schools followed suit.

This year, Bedford Hills Elementary took the lead with 178,875 minutes read and $17,783 raised. Paul Munro Elementary students read for 106,000 minutes and raised $12,671, and R. S. Payne Elementary students read for 78,053 minutes and raised $5,852.

Read-A-Thon festivities were made all the more exciting by the generosity of local partner organizations. From SeaQuest VIP packages to bikes from Bikes Unlimited, prizes for readers abounded.

R. S. Payne fifth grader Austin Friedman received a bike from One Community, Once Voice, a local nonprofit. Over the course of the school’s eight-day Read-A-Thon, he racked up an impressive 2,345 minutes–more than any of his schoolmates. He’d hardly registered how much he’d read, he said, because he was so immersed in the books. 

“I like reading because it’s entertaining. Reading is a fun activity I can do on my own,” Friedman said. “Read-a-Thon was a nice excuse to read, and the prizes are cool, too!”

See Related Content