Sponsors, families step up for Steps for Students 5K

December 10, 2019

 St. Clare’s coach Liz Filer, a Steps for Students 5K Committee member helping to organize volunteers to work the Feb. 15 run, and St. Clare’s principal Al Varisco shared specially designed cakes for students and their families. (Photos courtesy of St. Clare of Assisi Catholic School)

HOUSTON — Sponsors supporting Steps for Students 5K run/walk range from longtime CHRISTUS Foundation for Healthcare to new businesses like Happy Life Designs created by a mother with help from her two daughters.

A $3,000 silver sponsor again this year for Steps on Feb. 15, CHRISTUS Foundation also provides school-based clinics at several of the inner city Catholic schools. And it will provide first aid at the 5K run and walk with more than 10,000 participants.

CHRISTUS Foundation President Richard Torres said, “We know it’s important to support our Catholic schools. The clinics are part of our mission to meet a critical need in healthcare for low-income individuals.”

“We realize it takes time away from work and money to take a child to the doctor and have the child miss school,” he said.

A new $10,000 sponsor for the Catholic School Village is Happy Life Designs and its owner Nora Sessions. The Village is where the schools set up their tailgate-type tents and refreshments for families and their students located across from the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

Sessions, a parent at St. Laurence Catholic School in Sugar Land, said her custom-designed Rosary and personalized bracelets actually were born out of heartbreak.

“When my adopted daughter started with seizures at three months old, it took us months to find the cause,” Sessions said. “We found out that her biological mother tried to abort, causing brain damage.”

“I wanted to do something positive from this heartbreak. Our Blessed Mother has always been helping us through the tough times, so we started this in her honor,” Sessions said.

Her youngest daughter had brain surgery when she was two years old but had not started walking yet. The operation stopped the seizures, and now at four years old, “she is not only walking but running all over the place” although still non-verbal.

“My oldest daughter, who was seven at the time, wanted to do something to help babies be born healthy, that’s her understanding of Pro-Life,” she said.

So the oldest daughter creates the kids’ designs herself, and Sessions makes other products with sale profits going toward Christian Voices for Life.

“I still have my full-time job and care for both girls, so at night is when we are able to work on our orders and enjoy our time together, a fun mother/daughter special time,” she said.

Funds raised from the Steps event on a course around downtown Houston help Catholic schools with new technology, books, tuition scholarships and other educational needs.

In addition to businesses, schools also look to their families to support Steps for Students. St. Clare of Assisi Catholic School in Clear Lake kicked off their 5K registration recently with an Annual Family Night filled with fun activities.

St. Clare’s coach Liz Filer, a Steps Committee member helping to organize volunteers to work the run, and St. Clare’s principal Al Varisco shared specially designed cakes for the crowd. STEPS has provided funds for that school to buy new computers, scholarships and helped with the students’ community outreach projects like feeding the homeless, Filer said.

Father Clint Ressler, pastor at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and its school Our Lady of Fatima in Texas City, is currently leading Steps in gathering donations.

“Our Lady of Fatima had a wonderful experience at last year’s event. It was a real eye-opening experience to see thousands of other Catholic school students, parents and grandparents. It was a celebration of Catholic education and a striking visual confirmation of the vitality of Catholic schools across the Archdiocese,” Father Ressler said.

“Steps for Students is so much more than just a fundraiser for our school. It is an annual opportunity to see and experience firsthand the life and mission of our local Church,” he said.

But at $31,901.08 raised so far, he may have far to go to bypass last year’s top donation-getter, Father Albert Zanatta with Assumption Catholic Church off Airline, who raised more than $91,000 in comparison to larger schools averaging $5,000.

“We get our church involved because the school couldn’t do it alone. Our parishioners organize lunches and dinners to raise funds, and we receive other generous donations,” Father Zanatta said.