Honors students draw with chalk on a tricycle course for the Child Development Center (Photo Credit: Sheila Baumgartner)

On Saturday, September 17th, the ONU Honors Program hosted their annual Trike-a-Thon, an event in which children from ONU’s Child Development Center raised money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in exchange for the chance to ride a tricycle course set up and run by the Honors Program.

In advance of the event, the preschoolers enrolled in the Child Development Center were educated on bike safety. In raising funds for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, they also spent time reflecting on the value of giving to those in need. June Zimmerman, director of the Child Development Center, says that having the money go to people the same age as the children makes it more meaningful for them. Although the yearly goal is around $1,000, this year the preschoolers raised $1,930. Zimmerman says the children enthusiastically talk about Trike-a-Thon “in their everyday conversations for many weeks after the event has taken place.”

The Honors Program spent a month in advance of the Trike-a-Thon planning the course and preparing necessary materials. Among the steps taken, the program designed the layout of the course, deciding what changes would need to be made to existing course assets and what new items would need to be acquired. The team assembled a shopping list, and made a trip to Walmart to gather supplies, submitting a receipt for reimbursement. Aside from two class periods which were set apart to allow students time to work, they also spent time outside of class to prepare and decorate course parts. This was additionally challenging to them because they were given little supervision; in addition to preparing the course relatively independently, the Honors students needed to coordinate between three course sections–62 students in total. 

Dr. Forrest Clingerman, director of the ONU Honors Program, says these challenges were intended: “ It allows honors students to ‘hit the ground running’.” The Trike-a-Thon was one of the first responsibilities Honors students had to complete as part of the program, and its successful completion required the utilization of several essential life skills: teamwork, time management, and creativity. Dr. Clingerman also expressed satisfaction with the connection of several age groups associated with the event, from preschoolers to grandparents.

On the day of the event, students began setting up around 10:15 AM. Preschoolers arrived at 11:00, and rode the track through 12:00, when the event ended. Although the event was focused on the young children, the Honors students also had fun. I spoke with Faith Hampton, who helped tricyclers get over a ramp on the course. She described it as a “very enjoyable experience,” finding satisfaction in helping bring joy to children: “It was so much fun.”

Both Dr. Clingerman and Mrs. Zimmerman expressed their satisfaction with the event, describing it as a “fun activity” and a “huge hit” respectively.

By Gabriel Mott

Culture Editor, Award-Winning Satirical Columnist, Writer

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