Snooze you... win? A different way to support Catholic education at Steps for Students

January 23, 2024

A young student gets a slice of king cake in the Catholic Schools Village at the 2023 Steps for Students 5K Race and Walk. The 2024 race is set for Feb. 10, the start of the Lunar New Year season and Mardi Gras weekend, in downtown Houston at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and registration is under way. (Photo By James Ramos/Herald)

HOUSTON — With 2024 being a Leap Year, schools are jumping at the chance to support this year’s 19th Annual Steps for Students 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, Feb. 10.

The largest Archdiocese fundraiser for Catholic education, Steps doesn’t require supporters to crawl out of their warm beds by 6 a.m. or earlier to make the 7 a.m. Sunrise Mass at the Co-Cathedral downtown and the 8:30 a.m. start of the race.

A popular option called “Hit the Snooze for Students” allows supporters to sleep in but still get the race T-shirt. Despite the old saying, “You snooze, you lose,” snoozers for Steps win in catching more Zzzzs while still supporting Catholic education.

Many of those who choose to snooze are supporters who live in areas farther away from downtown Houston, like Sacred Heart Catholic School in Conroe, St. Laurence in Sugar Land, St. Martha in Kingwood, St. Anne in Tomball, and Holy Family Catholic School in Galveston.

Their registrations will benefit the network of 45 Catholic primary schools, including their own schools and thousands of students.

Beth Istre, advancement director at Sacred Heart in Conroe, said, “The Snooze registration is the easiest way to support Catholic education without even getting out of bed in the morning.”

She added, “Because we are so far away, sometimes it is hard to get folks to go into downtown Houston early in the morning.”

Istre said that the school has reached its Steps goal of raising $85,000 each year for the past three years. She estimated the school and its supporters have raised about half a million dollars over the past several years. “Besides tuition assistance, the funds have also been used to purchase equipment for the school, including a rock wall and other playground and school equipment,” she said.

Holy Family Catholic School in Galveston traditionally has 100% of their elementary and middle school students participate in Steps via Snooze registration, said principal Jeanna Porter.

“Steps usually falls during Mardi Gras, and that is a huge celebration on the island with lots of traffic,” Porter said. “Our students and families also participate in the Mardi Gras parades, including riding on a float that is sponsored by our parish.”

Many Catholic schools officially kick off their drive for Steps during Catholic Schools Week celebrations from Jan. 28 through Feb. 3 this year. They organize bake sales and other school events to raise funds for Steps while creating fun for students with games and prizes.

Each school designates its registration fees and pledges to benefit its school directly and count toward the families’ fundraising goals. To still support Catholic schools and receive the official race T-shirt, snoozers can now register for $20, which will increase to $30 starting Feb. 1.

But snoozers do miss the full excitement, camaraderie, music and colorful crowds of race day, as well as the blessing from Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, reminds Dr. Mazie McCoy, assistant superintendent of governance and leadership.

Registrants who are serious about running can compete in the chip-timed 5K, a USA Track and Field-certified and sanctioned event featuring a single-loop, for only $20. For untimed, the registration is $18, while the Family 1K Fun Run is $17 per person. Those increase also on Feb. 1. Registration is available onsite on race day, but only via credit card.

Debra Haney, Ed.D., secretariat director and superintendent of Catholic Schools, said “We are so thrilled to once again celebrate the community, connectivity, collegiality, charity and the little bit of healthy competition that this event brings for our schools.”

She added, “Our students, teachers, parents and principals are the real stars that we celebrate as we grow together in advancing the mission of our schools through this awesome community event.”

The event brings together school communities, parishioners, community partners/sponsors and runners from across the Archdiocese’s 10 counties. To register or for more information, www.steps4students.org.

Steps for Students: Volunteers Needed
Organizers of the annual Steps for Students 5K Run/Walk, set for Saturday, Feb. 10, in downtown Houston, are seeking volunteers.

There are various days, times and tasks available for volunteers, including sorting T-shirts and race bibs, manning a water station on the course, hanging banners and signs, distributing medals, and cleaning up after the race. Visit www.steps4students.org and click on “Volunteer” for more information or to sign up.