Memorial run/walk raises scholarship money, honors a “good human being”

Pictured is the t-shirt design honoring late Rushford-Peterson teacher Mitch Thompson. The back of the shirt reads: “In memory of Mr. Thompson, 1963-2017.”
By : 
Scott Bestul

Like so many of her peers, Rushford-Peterson Senior Nicole Blagsvedt was deeply affected by the death of math teacher Mitch Thompson last December. “I literally think about him every day,” Blagsvedt said. “His motto, to ‘Be a good human being,’ was something that always stuck with me. Those are words we should all live by, just like he did. Losing him was really hard.”
Then Blagsvedt heard R-P science teacher Duane Koenen suggest a memorial run/walk to honor Thompson, and she knew exactly what she needed to do. “I’m really interested in health and wellness anyway,” said Blagsvedt, a student member of the school’s Health & Wellness Club. “So this seemed a perfect way to remember Mr. Thompson through an event that would promote wellness.”
Though Blagsvedt is modest about her work in organizing the event, Koenen isn’t afraid to praise her. “I have Nicole in study hall and mentioned the idea for a run/walk to honor Mitch, and she just jumped on it and took over,” Koenen said. “Nicole is a great student and involved in so many things and in so many ways. Planning something like this is a pretty big deal; there’s a ton of things to think about and plan, and Nicole was the perfect person to take charge, because she wants things to get done right.”
Among Blagsvedt’s duties were coming up with a plan for the event, organizing people to help, and mapping the general route. She even took on the task of designing the t-shirt. “She really worked hard on everything,” Koenen said. “And she went online, designed the t-shirt, got bids from two companies, and then worked with a printing company to get them made. Nicole has done an amazing job.”
The “Mr. Thompson Memorial Run/Walk” will be held Wednesday, May 23, at 12:30 p.m. The time/date was chosen so that all R-P students could participate. While no entry fee is required, a donation of $5 is suggested. Koenen notes that money from entry fees and t-shirt sales will be used to fund scholarships for R-P seniors. “We’ve already established a scholarship in Mitch’s name, so the funds from this walk will be used for other scholarships as well,” Koenen said. “Mitch was a generous guy and would have wanted it that way.”
Members of the public are encouraged to join R-P students in walking one of two routes. “The one-mile route starts at the school, goes south on Eiken Drive, then follows a trail that crosses to the bike path and ends at Creekside Park,” Koenen said. “The five-mile route starts on Eiken, then turns left where the one-mile goes right. It follows an old snowmobile trail up the hill, then comes down Dump Hill Road (Money Creek Street) and eventually goes right past Dana Thompson’s house. It continues to South River Street, cuts down to the bike path, and comes back to town and winds up at Creekside.”
While Blagsvedt hopes for a huge turnout, she said people wanting to support the walk can make donations at the school or purchase a t-shirt. “We had 27 orders the first day we offered t-shirts, which was really exciting,” Blagsvedt said. “People can order t-shirts until 3 p.m. Friday, May 4, either online at the R-P Schools website or by visiting the school office.”
In the meantime, organizers are hoping for a good turnout and a lot of community support for the event. “It’s a great way for us to remember Mr. Thompson and raise some scholarship money,” Blagsvedt said. “I hope it becomes an annual event.”