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FWISD Runs With Cowtown

Abhijeet Kumar is attempting what few ever consider. The fact that he’s 17 and in high school makes it all the more impressive. abhijeet

The Paschal High School senior is running the Ultra Marathon leg of The 2020 Cowtown Race Weekend, which runs Friday, February 28- Sunday, March 1 in Fort Worth. Abhijeet is navigating his way through 31 miles (50K) – a marathon is 26.2 miles – in honor of someone special.

“I’m doing it for my mom,” he said. “My mom motivated me to start running back when I was in seventh and eighth grade. Like any kid, I didn’t listen the first few years. … It grew on me and I started running more and more.

“My mom has always wanted to do the Boston Marathon. I thought if I can get good enough and run a good time, I can run with my mom. And that would be pretty fun.” 

Fort Worth ISD student and staff have historically played an integral part in The Cowtown, which has become a local treasure during its 42-year existence. The Cowtown and FWISD schools have a long partnership history.

More than 3,000 FWISD students are participating in The Cowtown Kids 5K this year as part of the C.A.L.F. Program (Children’s Activities for Life and Fitness), which helps “area children lace up and cross countless finish lines.” C.A.L.F. staff and volunteers visit approximately 400 schools across North Texas annually, teaching students about proper running techniques, nutrition and hydration and living an active lifestyle.

“Whenever FWISD and The Cowtown C.A.L.F. Program join forces, great things happen,” The Cowtown Vice Chair Leslie Casey said. “Our children learn about the importance of nutrition and activity, they are equipped and supported in pursuit of lifelong healthy habits, and because of this our community realizes a more productive future. 

“FWISD coaches and P.E. teachers are the ones that deserve the most praise when it comes to fulfilling the C.A.L.F. mission and promise. It is their dedication and enthusiasm that has infused each child with a healthy attitude that makes this program work so well.”

The C.A.L.F. grant program identifies low-income children and properly fits them with a new pair of running shoes, and funds are provided to make entry fees more affordable. FWISD elementary students had shoes delivered straight to them on nearly 70 campuses.

“What’s lovely about The Cowtown C.A.L.F. Program for Fort Worth ISD students and all students is it gives our students an opportunity to be physically active, which is essential for good health, but also to see their city and be part of a team,” FWISD Health and Physical Education Director Georgi Roberts said. “This collaboration between Cowtown and the District has just been fabulous. We message this for 12 months out of the year. It’s not a one-off deal.” eldercowtowncalf

It’s important to note that entry fees aren’t completely waived, which gives students “skin in the game” by having to make a partial financial commitment, Ms. Roberts said. The District also provides buses to help get students to the Kids 5K on Saturday, February 29.

“Providing students the opportunity is the main thing,” FWISD Physical Education Curriculum Specialist Cherrelle Tillis-White said. “Giving them the tools and a reason to go; give them the experience they wouldn’t necessarily get at school or home.”

For older students, such as Paschal senior Abhijeet Kumar, The Cowtown is an opportunity to test themselves in more ways than just physical endurance. Abhijeet ran his first marathon last month in Houston as part of his training for this weekend’s 31-mile trek. 

“Not many 17-year-olds run a marathon and definitely a lot fewer run the Ultra Marathon,” he said. “When you get your opportunity why not take it, right?”

Paschal Principal Troy Langston, an avid runner himself, is well aware of the sacrifices and dedication Abhijeet put into training. 

“I know exactly what it feels like,” Mr. Langston said. “I did the Ultra and it’s a long race. When his mother brought it to my attention, it was just an immediate connection for us. It means a lot to me that a student is attempting to take care of his needs by turning to running.”


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