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NEWS STORIES

Young Runners Prepare for Journeys RaceSubmitted: 05/08/2013
Story By Lex Gray

EAGLE RIVER - Imagine yourself running a 5k. Does the thought exhaust you?

Now imagine running a 5k where you're only about chest-height compared to the rest of the runners.

Dozens of fourth and fifth graders from Northland Pines are up to the challenge.

The "Mission Possible" running club will take on the Journey's Marathon 5k this weekend after seven weeks of training.

"I think I'm ready for it," said fifth grader Brady Snedden.

He's been training with 71 other students from Northland Pines Elementary School.

Teacher Megan Hoffman started Mission Possible last year with just 30 students.

"We just saw some of the kids not veering down the right path," Hoffman said. "[They were] not making the right decisions as far as the foods they were eating and activities they were doing."

That's not an issue for fourth grader Lakken Ludwig.

"I love to run with my friends and I just like to be active," she said.

Ludwig plays soccer, too. But running feels different.

"You can just run and you don't have to worry about anything."

That idea makes running accessible to almost anyone.

"All of the kids can participate," Hoffman said. "Whether they're here to walk or whether they're here to run, they don't really necessarily have to have a special talent. Everyone is welcome."

"I feel good because every night when I go home, my parents are proud of me because I did it and it just makes me feel like I'm always in shape," Ludwig said.

That kind of encouragement is important, but the big payoff is the big race.

"It plays a huge role in our community, to see the kids out there with their families some of the parents are running, aunts and uncles are running, because [the kids] are running," Hoffman said. "It's just played such a huge impact beyond the school and in the community."

"It's just fun to train for something you know is big and that you want to accomplish," Snedden said.

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A transportation theme was chosen for 2015.

"[We're] on our history hunt, and we are learning about where the railroads went around Merrill, how the river was important, where the trolley went, where the old highways go, and all of those thing are included in our packet of navigation," said Merrill Historical Society's Jane Francoeur.

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"Mrs. Johnson was always one of our favorite teachers, you could go to her about anything like troubles at home or bullying, and she'd always be there for us so it's really nice to give back to her," said Phelps 8th grader Alexandria Myszka.

Kim Johnson works as the music teacher at Phelps Middle School. After her husband D.J. was hurt in an accident last month, he's now paralyzed from the waist down.

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"Originally, this was our 8th grade class fundraiser, but after we heard about Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, we decided to donate all of the proceeds to them," said Myszka.

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The Daybreak Foods facility tested the flock every day for the virus after a facility in Jefferson County tested positive ten days ago.

Every test for the Lake Mills facility was negative until they found dead birds this week. The virus also spread to other facilities in Minnesota and Iowa.

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Oneida County's Veteran Service Officer Tammy Walters spoke at the forum and answered questions.

"I like, when I have the opportunity to get out there and tell them about benefits because there are a lot of benefits out there and people don't always qualify for them," says Walters. "There's going to be someone that's going to leave here today and they're going to be eligible for a benefit they had no idea they were eligible for."

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