Rusty Stitt Sets Out to Raise $50,000 for Scholarships

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Superintendent Rusty Stitt on the right talks to a volunteer at the 2017 Back to School bash. He will be walking and biking this year to raise money for scholarships.

By Sue Moore

“Getting there is the fun part,” says Schoolcraft School Supt. Rusty Stitt, starting his day with a brisk walk to his office at the high school. It turns out to be less than fun. A blister starts rubbing on his heel. He has to call for a ride about halfway.

Stitt is in training for a personal 50-50 fundraising campaign: 50-50, as in raising $50,000 for the Schoolcraft School Foundation by walking and biking a total of 50 miles, all on Aug. 28.

His goal is to raise money from donors to support the school Foundation’s scholarship program for the class of 2019 and beyond. “I see the necessity to increase the amount of funding for students going on to trade school or college and I want to help spur the community to get behind this effort,” he says.

For some folks it might be easy to walk 25 miles and bike 25 miles, all in a day.

But for Stitt, who has gradually added pounds in his career of educating children, it won’t be so easy. Thus, the challenge to him and the community. At 8 a.m. on Tuesday, August 28, he will step off from the high school on a prescribed trail, taking him throughout the community, walking and then biking while reporting progress every few minutes on Facebook. He hopes that area residents will follow along and donate whatever they can to help the cause.

To kick-start the campaign, $7,000 has already been raised with an anonymous donation of $5,000 and $2,000 from School Board President Darby Fetzer. Others can get on board by going to the school’s website at bit.ly/SCFoundationFund or by dropping off a check at the high school office.

The Schoolcraft Community School Foundation was started in 1984 but has languished through the years. Its balance, currently about $600,000, earns interest in perpetuity.

That generates approximately $4,000 each year for scholarships, according to Board Treasurer Rita Broekema. By increasing the base amount each year, the payout gets better. Stitt’s goal to raise $50,000 would be split, half going to the base and half to scholarships for the class of 2019.

The walk-bike effort will end at the high school football field at about 6 p.m. as part of the Back to School opener for Schoolcraft. He’s hoping others will join him in the walking and biking, which should take approximately 10 hours with rest stops. His longest training walk thus far has been 10 miles and it felt good, he said. He is also working out on a stationary bike at home where he can do about 20 miles in an hour. He still needs to practice out on the road with a skinny tire bike.

As a by-product of the effort, Stitt admits it would be good if he could lose a few pounds. So far during his training laps, he’s shed about 15 pounds from his 300-pound-plus frame.

“It’s not for me that I’m doing this, it’s for the kids,” Stitt emphasized. “it’s an incentive for the community to donate. I’ve done some crazy stuff like this at other schools that have been successful, so I’m trying my best to make this a special gift to our kiddos who could really use the money to further their education. I remember the scholarships that were given to me and I feel a need to give back to others. I believe it’s called ‘paying it forward.’”

Board members of the school Foundation who will make the decision on scholarships, based upon need and grades, include President David Krum and members Dr. Jack Sauer, Kathy Mastenbrook, Darby Fetzer and Jim Goes. The money in the Schoolcraft Foundation is administered by the Kalamazoo Foundation.

Save the Date:
Schoolcraft Community Schools Back-To-School Open House
August 28th, at the Elementary/Middle School campus, 5-6 p.m., classroom tours 6-8 p.m., Community Social at the football field, games, activities, dinner, and sign-ups available for FREE!

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