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Lifting Fundraiser

Putnam County (Ga.) High School football players counted their reps--and the resulting pledged money--for an annual Lift-A-Thon fundraiser in July. This year's event raised about $700.

On July 28, about 40 Putnam County (Ga.) High School football players raised weights from the ground to their shoulders in the power clean lift while the number of repetitions were carefully tallied. Rather than being a preseason test or an exercise to fuel their competitive spirit, the rep-count determined the amount of money each player's sponsors owed for the team's annual Lift-A-Thon fundraiser.

"Prior to the fundraiser, each one goes out and gets sponsors--so he might ask Uncle Joe to pledge a nickel for each repetition," says Putnam County Head Football Coach Ben Reaves. "Then after the Lift-A-Thon finishes, each player gets his donation sheet back with the amounts tallied for the sponsors to see how much it adds up to."

While student-athletes can ask for pledges as small as a penny per rep, they are asked to make sure they reach a total minimum donation of $20. "Of course some kids just get a flat donation for that amount," Reaves says. "But we still keep track of their reps, because we award prizes for different weight-classes. Each student-athlete lifts his bodyweight at the event and weight classes are separated by about 10 pounds. Weight-class winners get prizes, such as a certificate for a free meal from a restaurant or a t-shirt that's sponsored by a local business."

By its nature, the Lift-A-Thon is a high-energy, intense event. But its planning and preparation is low-key. "We've been doing it for several years," Reaves says. "And as far as planning goes, it's pretty pain-free. You just pick a date a month or two in advance, schedule a location at that time, and run an ad and article in the paper about two weeks before the event. You have the kids get sponsors, then you just go with it."

This year's event was held in the parking lot of a Zaxby's restaurant, which gave community members the opportunity to drop by easily--whether or not they knew about it in advance. "We want people to come by and ask our players what's going on," Reaves says. "We try to make sure it's in a visible location and we do it on a Saturday. That gives people a chance to meet our team and coaches--and possibly sponsor one of the players at the event."
 
The length of the event varies, depending on how long the student-athletes can sustain the competition. They must be able to complete three-reps to stay in the running. "We have a definite end-time set," Reaves says. "And sometimes you have to cut it off. If everyone's done except for a few kids, I might tell them they need to get five reps to stay in. That's a key point--setting the number of reps for the number of kids you have participating and amount of time you want it to last. Our events go about two hours. If the team is strong, the event can span a long time, so you'll need to adjust the reps and enforce the end-time."

Along with Reaves' careful tracking of time, the team's athletic trainer is always present to keep an eye on the student-athletes' safety. There is also an abundant supply of water and refreshments available from the high school's football booster club--both for spectators and competitors. "Altogether, it's just a great event," Reaves says. "People love to come watch and take pictures, and our team loves it--they get to meet their fans, and it's a neat way to transition from summer workouts to our practice season."



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