Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Galena Park among leading fundraisers for Steps

January 10, 2023

Above, the race finish is seen at a past Steps for Students event. Below, Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Galena Park hosted a “Walk Through Bethlehem” transforming their gym with tents, veils and decorations to share the message of Christmas and to raise funds for Steps for Students 5K Run/Walk. One of the tents shows Bethlehem, which means House of Bread, with an assortment of baked goods. (Photo courtesy of School Principal Miguel Sanchez)

HOUSTON — Raising more than $20,000 for its school last year, Our Lady of Fatima Catholic school in Galena Park is again in the running to be among the top fundraisers for Steps for Students 5K run/walk set for Feb. 11.

Principal Miguel Sanchez of Our Lady of Fatima School in the Port of Houston/Ship Channel area credits the support of their church pastor, Father Justin Cormie, in raising participation of parishioners as well as school families.

“For any of our events to produce fruit, we need the pastors’ support 100%. Father Justin transmits his energy to the scholars, making them want to participate. He is now challenging them to raise individual funds for Steps,” Sanchez said.

Father Cormie is upping his game as well, raising individually $6,450 so far. The Fatima School Team has raised $7,560 — placing it among the top four schools. But the usual frontrunner, Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic (OLG) School Principal Irazema Ortiz, has raised $10,830 with her OLG school on Navigation raising $23,189.

Father Cormie said, “Seeds of hope are especially nourished by the prayers and sacrifices of our community. The financial aid our school receives from Steps for Students is also a vital aspect of that nourishment, which provides for the basic needs of our faculty and students. We are grateful to our community as well as our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the Archdiocese who have donated to our school!”

Steps for Students ranks as the Archdiocese’s largest annual event to support and raise awareness for Catholic education, said Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, who usually blesses the crowd before the start of the race. Held at the starting line downtown by the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, the event has drawn up to 10,000 supporters. Last year, many of the 54 Catholic schools and several sponsors raised more than $900,000, bouncing back after a couple of years of the pandemic that nixed big-crowd events, with a 5,000-person crowd in 2022.

The funds are used for upgrading school infrastructures, academic enrichment programs, computers, field trips, tuition assistance and other needs. This year, Steps for Students committee co-chairs Roman and Diana Dávila Martinez are aiming to hit the $1 million mark as they did before the pandemic.

“We are consistently impressed by the creativity of our pastors. Principals and team captains as they motivate their communities and raise funds to support the school’s Steps for Students’ efforts,” said Dr. Debra Haney, secretariat director and superintendent of Catholic schools.
Our Lady of Fatima has been going full steam with different activities to support Steps, including a spaghetti dinner with a silent auction and inviting all students who register to attend a glow-in-the-dark party, Principal Sanchez said.

“We also hosted an event called ‘A Walk through Bethlehem’ where we transformed our gymnasium as Bethlehem to share the message of Christmas to the community. We sold food, took pictures with St. Nicholas, and other fun ways to raise funds for Steps,” he said.

Principal Sanchez also partnered with the Knights of Columbus from St. Philip of Jesus Catholic Church in the surrounding neighborhood for them to sponsor breakfast sales to raise money for the school.

“Towards the end of the fundraising, we will have our own pre-race/walk called Fatima Feast on Fitness hosted for the community of Galena Park to bring awareness of our school and continue our fundraising efforts,” he said.

Each year, the school selects a theme, and the 2023 theme is “Out of this World,” with Our Lady of Fatima students seeing artwork of planets, stars, a rockets ship and astronaut, “along with the scholars’ names on a wall in the gym to get them motivated,” Sanchez said.
The 18th Annual Steps for Students is a 5K USA Track & Field Association-sanctioned race/walk benefiting Catholic schools of the Archdiocese.

Steps for Students will be held Feb. 11 in downtown Houston with the starting line by the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. A Mass will be celebrated there at 7 a.m., and the race kicks off at 8 a.m.

For more information, to register or sponsor, visit www.steps4students.org. Registering now is the best deal, with only a $20 fee as the highest to register versus rising to $30 after Jan. 31.