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Thomas Hospital and Wells Fargo Award More Than $8,000 in Spring Fever Chase Grants to Schools

Thomas Hospital and Wells Fargo Award More Than $8,000 in Spring Fever Chase Grants to Schools 

Fairhope, Ala.—Annually, proceeds from Spring Fever Chase, a 10K run and 5 mile fun run/walk presented by Thomas Hospital and Wells Fargo, benefit physical education (PE) programs in Baldwin County Schools. Schools with at least 25 race applicants (including parents who register through the school) receive $2 for each participant who registers; schools with fewer than 25 registrations are not eligible for cash awards. In addition to prize money awarded to schools for participation, Baldwin County coaches can apply for Spring Fever Chase grants for physical education equipment. This year, checks were presented to Christ the King Catholic School, Fairhope East Elementary School, Fairhope Middle School, Fairhope West Elementary School and J. Larry Newton Elementary School. 

“Spring Fever Chase is a fun event that has a big purpose,” says Jill Everson, chairman of the run. “We love hosting, but we also like to give back to the schools that participate in the run. P.E. programs are usually the last to get funding and because of that, our goal is to encourage the coaches write grants asking for equipment they can use in their school programs.” 

Coach Danielle Johnson at Christ the King Catholic School received grant money for CPR classes. “Years ago, one of our students had a heart attack while playing basketball,” remarks Coach Johnson. “Thank God there was a parent there who knew CPR, and that parent 

was able to resuscitate the student until the ambulance could arrive. I would love for all our students to have this skill in case a situation like this arises again.” In addition to CPR classes, the $2,000 the school received will provide self-defense classes students. 

Students at Fairhope East Elementary School can thank Coach Ryan Hymel and Coach Curtis Brodie for the $2,558.24 grant that will help bring an in-ground volleyball system and Gopher Sports, such as Pro Bases, Home Base, Pitcher Rubber and 9 Square in the Air Game Set to their school next year. The coaches remarked, “Our hope is that when students are exposed to different recreational games, they find more games that they enjoy. Through participating in lifelong activities, students develop a healthy lifestyle well after their physical education years. 

Coach Donna Earnest at Fairhope Middle School received a $1,978.92 grant request for table tennis tables and a Volleyball Skillastics game set. 

Table tennis is considered an individual sport to many, but Coach Earnest focuses on the skills of both individuals and teams. “My students love our table tennis unit,” says Coach Earnest. “Each year, we finish our table tennis tournament with a doubles tournament. The overall winners of the tournament have their names placed on a plaque in the gym.” 

Volleyball Skillastics is a participatory game that provides kinesthetic learning for both individuals and teams. The team building game exposes children to volleyball in a fun, yet structured, non-threatening environment and includes a game mat, beanbags and game boards. Volleyball Skillastics focuses on individual hand/eye coordination, bilateral proficiency and stamina. Both of Coach Earnest’s requests meet the requirement of the Alabama Physical Education Course of Study for students to develop taught skills used in individual, dual and team sports, which was one of her goals. 

Coach Kathy Hudson requested $2,158.25 for Gator Skin balls and Hula Hoops. “Hula-hoops are often used to improve rhythm, but they also teach balance and improve hand and eye coordination,” says Coach Hudson. “Hula Hoops are the secret to teaching kids to jump rope because they can twirl the hoop and easily see it and jump over it. Students, ranging in age from kindergarten to 6th grade, use them for target toss formations, obstacle courses and for a variety of games and hopscotch layouts. In addition to a fun way to exercise, Coach Hudson remarks that Hula Hoops build teamwork. She states, “I have used a Hula Hut activity at the Baldwin County Peer Helper Training Day. During the activity, Peer Helpers work with their fellow students at each of their schools to make their huts. Teamwork is part of the Peer Helpers’ mission statement.” 

Gator Balls are a favorite of both Coach Hudson and the students. The school purchases Gator Balls in various sizes, which is very helpful for younger students who need can throw and catch a smaller ball more easily and the softness of Gator Balls is a plus. The newly purchased balls will be used to shoot baskets, play Ultimate Kickball and Angry Birds. 

Because Hurricane Sally destroyed J. Larry Newton School’s archery backdrops, Coach Emily Pharez is eager to replace them, which is what the $1,632 grant will do. “Archery is a lifelong sport,” says Coach Emily Pharez. “It’s a sport that students of all sizes and abilities can learn. In addition to registering for the archery class unit, students can join our Archery Club.” 

“Over the last 10 years that I have chaired this event, we have granted more than $73,000” says Everson. “I love to call the coaches and tell them we’ve approved their grant request! We hope to continue this for as long as we can. So, come out and support Spring Fever Chase next March.” To learn more about Spring Fever Chase, visit

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