Well, it’s finally here! The end of my fundraising campaign for Rhodes Hall High School is upon us. It’s hard to believe that this effort has been going on for the better part of two months now! There have been some big developments over the past few weeks that I am excited to share with you!

First – there are only 3 DAYS LEFT for fundraising! I am hoping to reach $2,500 by February 15, at which time all of the remaining funds will be transferred to Coach Parchment! We are only $375 away from that goal, and every contribution will help!! I had sent him a portion of the money last month so that he could make a deposit on new uniforms for the team in hopes of getting them in time for the Regional Championships the first weekend of February. The rest of the money will be used to pay the remaining balance and purchase track shoes and spikes for the kids, so if you have not donated yet, please consider doing so! Coach Parchment was so excited to report to me that the uniform company came through and delivered the uniforms just in time for Regionals, so the kids got to go compete looking their best!

Looking pretty tough if you ask me!

Thanks to the generosity of two readers, we also had several brand new pairs of track shoes and spikes make it to Jamaica just before the championships, so more kids got to compete! Coach Parchment and I text via WhatsApp fairly regularly, and he was so excited to tell me all about the amazing progress that the kids made this year. For example, the boys team finished 6th overall in the region and the girls team finished 14th! Last year, the team earned 2 medals, and this year, they earned a whopping 12!!! 23 boys and 9 girls – 32 students in all – qualified for Nationals this year compared to 15 who competed last year! Pretty amazing stuff, right?!

Coach Parchment (far right) with the team and their AWESOME new uniforms – thanks to all of you!!

Remember that amazing picture of the high jumper I posted on my first blog about the school? Well, his name is Asani, and he won GOLD in high jump, bronze in javelin, 6th in triple jump, and anchored the relay team, moving them up from 6th place to 3rd during his leg! Pretty cool, huh? Rhodene, the sweet, shy girl who I spoke to first, won bronze in the high jump, while my buddy Omar, who tried to teach me how to throw, came in 4th in discus and 5th in shotput! The team took home 12 medals overall!

Omar looking sharp!

Nationals are the first weekend of March, and the team is so excited about their prospects this year. It is pretty amazing to see how Coach Parchment has helped the team grow from last year to this year (his second year), but he never talks about himself! Every time we talk, he just tells me how hard the kids are working and how proud he is of them. I have even gotten to speak with some of the parents of the kids via Facebook (ah, the magic of social media!) and everyone is gushing over what a great role model the Coach is and how electric the atmosphere is around the team this year. There is something truly special going on at Rhodes Hall High School!

I’m seriously obsessed with these uniforms – there are singlets and shorts underneath!

But it’s not just fundraising efforts that are going great – I’m continuing to receive shipments of new and gently used running clothes, too! I recently mailed out the first barrel of gear, including 27(!!!) pairs of shoes) and a ton of shirts, shorts, and more! And this is no small barrel, you guys. We’re talking 55 gallons and up to my waist! I stuffed that thing so full that I literally had to sit in it to smush everything down so it would close, but I prevailed! The barrel was sent out on Saturday, February 6 and should arrive in Montego Bay in 2-3 weeks – just in time for Nationals!

And this is only about half of the stuff we’ve received!

I expect to ship out at least one more barrel, so please, keep the boxes coming! I will accept donations through the end of the month, at least. Boxes can be mailed to: Danielle Cemprola, PO Box 26101, Greenville, SC 29616. And it’s not just me that is collecting donations, either! My buddies at Qore Performance held a gear drive for the team last week and they have a barrel to fill themselves! If you’ve been waiting to try out their innovative wearable hydration products, now is your chance! They’ve got a SWEET sale going right now – use code VPLOVE to get 40% off ANY purchase on their site through February 15!!

Spring and summer are coming, people! Get the shorts (and the sleeves and the shirts)!

I couldn’t be more over the moon with how this campaign has gone. I certainly never expected to be buying barrels and learning about freight shipping overseas, but the whole thing has been an amazing adventure that is SO worth it! I can’t wait to see how the kids do at Nationals, and of course, you’ll be the first to know! Thank you so much to all of you have contributed so far – I can’t say it enough. Truly, every single dollar, shirt, and pair of shoes has made such a huge difference in the lives of these kids. Knowing that you care means the world to them! If you haven’t donated yet, help us reach our goal of $2,500 and let’s finish this thing out strong! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

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