Steps for Students 5K race celebrating 19 years running
December 12, 2023
Runners race down San Jacinto Street at the 2023 Steps for Students 5K Race. The 2024 race is set for Feb. 10 at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and registration is under way. (Photo by James Ramos/Herald)
HOUSTON — Race officials are calling for volunteers to help in the 19th annual Steps for Students 5K Run/Walk in downtown Houston on Feb. 10, 2024.
Each year, Steps for Students continues to be the largest event in the Archdiocese to support Catholic education. Thousands of students, parents and community supporters have already registered for this year’s Steps for Students, which directly benefits the 17,500-plus students enrolled in the 45 Catholic primary schools throughout the Archdiocese.
But there are more ways to help than just registering. Liz Filer, a teacher at St. Helen Catholic School in Pearland who coordinates volunteers for the event, said they can earn service hours while ensuring the 5K Run/Walk goes smoothly.
“We have more than 10,000 runners from across the Archdiocese, so we need at least 300 volunteers to distribute T-shirts and bibs while others can be stationed along the route, hand out medals and other duties,” Filer said, who is also an athletic coach.
Dr. Phyliss Coleman, principal at St. Helen, said her school, staff and students have been volunteering for “as long as I’ve been here for the past 11 years” of the 19-year event.
“St. Helen is our patron saint of service and evangelization, so our great staff is out there serving bottles of water, snack bars and fruit to the runners, walkers and even passers-by to share as Christians,” Dr. Coleman said.
“Most of our families and students involved are runners and walkers, but they also help set up for the Catholic School Village and other activities,” she said.
Their school’s official kickoff for Steps takes place in January during Catholic Schools Week celebrations.
“We’ll have bake sales and other school events to raise funds for Steps while making it fun for students with games and prizes,” the principal said.
Each school gets to designate its registration fees and pledges to directly benefit their school — counting toward the families’ fundraising goals.
“We’re not one of the bigger fundraisers for Steps, but we raise about $15,000. Most of that goes back to the students for tuition assistance and to help pay for academic and athletic competition fees. We have students who compete in speech, drama, chess and even engineering,” Dr. Coleman said.
The cost to support and compete in the timed 5K, which is a USA Track and Field-certified and sanctioned event, chip-timed and features a single-loop, is $20. For untimed races, the registration is $18, while the Family 1K Fun Run is $17 per person. To still support Catholic schools and receive the official race T-shirt but be able to sleep in or not run the event, registration is $20 but will go up after Feb. 1, 2024.
Superintendent of Catholic Schools Debra Haney said, “We are so thrilled to celebrate the community, connectivity, collegiality, charity and a little bit of healthy competition that this event brings for our schools.”
She added, “Join us for our Sunrise Mass at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart at 7 a.m. before visiting the Catholic School Village and the presentation of the David Guite Spirit Award and President’s Cup.”
One of those sponsors who has worked on the Steps committee for more than a decade, Colin Hageney of Bullpen Marketing, said he remembered years ago when the Steps event had then-Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza kick off the race from the back of a pick-up truck. Now, there is a full stage, decorated starting line and buzzing drones capturing all the action as Daniel Cardinal DiNardo blesses the runners.
“Steps for Students is more than a race,” Hageney said. “With the Catholic School Village tailgating, it’s networking and celebrating. Everyone who participates gets a medal. We have sisters and priests running, families with strollers, kids and high school students. It’s a blessing over everyone.”
The event brings together school communities, parishioners, community partners/sponsors and runners from across the Archdiocese’s 10 counties. To register, sponsor, volunteer or for more information, visit www.steps4students.org. †