SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the thermometer crept above the 100 degree mark, so did the expectation of a strong finish for Jason Harper's 100-mile-run for the children of inner-city Sacramento's roughest neighborhood. The Extra Mile Run was created by Harper to raise awareness and support for the uninsured children of Oak Ridge Elementary School.
Harper, 36, crossed the finish line on the playground of Oak Ridge at 29:35. Slightly dehydrated and exhausted, Harper's motivation never waned, though his body did.
"It was a long night and I am glad I am finished with the heat," Harper stated with ice packs being layered on his neck. "At the sixty mile mark, I was very nauseous and couldn't hold much down."
Despite the difficulties with the 103 degree heat, Harper continued to run.
"If we were really going to bring change, great awareness was going to have to happen. Finishing in the heat brought a lot more attention to the run," Harper stated.
For the last four years, Harper through Equal Start, has raised more than $100,000 in goods and service to help Oak Ridge Elementary thrive in their inner-city location. Despite the efforts of Equal Start, test scores remained nearly unchanged. Harper asked Principal Steve Lewis what he thought the reason was for little academic increase. Without hesitation, Lewis said, "A child's health and wellness." Harper strategized and then asked, "How can state-mandated test scores go up when sickness and access to basic health care escapes them?"
Harper discovered more than 1,000,000 children in California did not have health care and yet 70% of them qualified for it. The disconnect for medical coverage was at the enrollment process. "We found great friends at Cover the Kids. They mentored us to understand how to best get families aware of the available medical services."
Cover the Kids is a non-profit organization that assists families with the enrollment process to Medi-Cal, Healthy Kids, and Healthy Families. These organizations handle the medical needs of California's under-privileged children.
Brett Rodarte, a long-term broker of health insurance coverage and a volunteer at Oak Ridge, explained the health care dilemma. Many families without basic health care use the emergency rooms, that can't deny care, as their only option. The cost for the simplest of procedures can cost thousands. Those costs raise health care premiums and cost tax payers.
"The Extra Mile Run, as illogical it was, the approach he took was very practical. His vision is proactive, instead of reactive," said Rodarte.
With nearly 800 people crammed on the playground to see the finish, media and camera crews scurried to get in position. The staff, faculty, and students buzzed with anticipated hope of a strong finish. In the distance, Harper, his running buddies, Rick Cole and Principal Steve Lewis, appeared. Led by an obviously pained Harper, the trio galloped towards the finish in the second day of triple digit heat. In the final steps Cole raised Harper's arm to signify victory. Harper crossed and the friends, children, parents, and teachers of Oak Ridge screamed encouragement.
On this day, everyone at Oak Ridge Elementary knew they were significant. The value of going The Extra Mile was more than a cliche. For Jason Harper, It was the 100th mile that ended his greatest run and began the children's greatest hope, health care.
For more information, please call 916-284-4431 or visit http://www.extramilerun.com.
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|SOURCE Equal Start|
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