Denise Queally and Patti Elliott are co-chairs of the Milton Monster Dash, a 5k race and fun run scheduled for Sunday, October 30 at . The Monster Dash is a fundraising event through the Milton Foundation for Education in memory of Sam Cichello, a student who died in 1999. Queally, a School parent, spoke with columnist Julie Fay about volunteerism, the race and creating a fun event for families.
What does it take to put on the Monster Dash?
Because this is the 13th annual Monster Dash, we have been blessed that so many volunteers who have been involved over the years continue to help. I have to be sure we contact the police and the selectmen at the right times, to get the necessary permissions for the race, but my main role is to motivate people to help. It’s easy to do, because it’s such a great family event.
Is there anything new this year?
We brainstormed ideas to make it even more family- and kid-friendly. Traditionally, there’s been a kids’ fun run and they come in (Halloween) costumes. We’ll continue to do that, and the kids will be grouped by age level, and everybody will get a medal. Who doesn’t want to dress up for Halloween? It’s a chance to be outside and have fun with their friends.
We had a t-shirt design contest for kids for the second year in a row, and the winner was Cunningham kindergarten student Meghan Mylod (see photo.)
This year, Julie Ritchie, who is the owner of the Toy Box in Hanover and also sits on the MFE board, has offered to supply science kits for the kids’ activities. She’s donating kits for sun-printing and making superballs, as well as rocket balloons, beanbags and other fun stuff kids love. In addition parent Todd Ducharme is bringing his CATZ program employees to help with relay races and other fun activities, similar to the playground program in the four Milton elementary schools. We’re also having a kid-friendly DJ with fun activities and prizes.
What about the fundraising aspect of the race?
We’ve raised around $10,000 annually in recent years. All the money goes toward science enrichment at the elementary schools through the Sam Cichello Memorial Fund. Sam was a Tucker student who died after a tragic playground accident in 1999. He loved science, so that’s why the fund supports science enrichment.
Part of that enrichment has been to fund field trips to the over the years. This year, the Museum has offered to bring their owl program to the Monster Dash, from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m., so the kids will have a chance to see owls up close.
You volunteer a lot of time to the Monster Dash and the MFE. Why?
I am a big believer in community. Anything that brings the community together for whatever reason – fundraisers, memorializing – it makes the world a better place. Everything that the MFE does is done by volunteers, and everything raised goes right back to schools. The Monster Dash is an affordable and really fun event that brings the community together. It’s also great to bring attention to Sam’s Fund, with money being so tight, to help the science program.
I became so involved in the Milton Public Schools because I see the need for parental involvement in their children’s education no matter what, and seeing what the budget cuts have done to the schools is disheartening. Raising money to help is important. It’s something that we have an obligation to do as a member of the community. Besides, it’s a fun thing to do. We have a great group of parents, and I really enjoy working with them.