AME PTO — students, community — look forward to Dolphin Dash

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Gabriella Gilbert of Anna Maria Elementary pushes for the finish line Jan. 14, 2017, at the AME-Parent-Teacher Organization Dolphin Dash. Gabriella was the first-place winner in her 9-and-under female division. This year’s dash will be Jan. 19. Islander File Photo: Karen Riley-Love

Enthusiasm for the 13th annual Dolphin Dash has Gabriella Gilbert running laps.

The 5K race and 1-mile fun run at Anna Maria Elementary School is Saturday, Jan. 19. Gabriella, a fifth-grader at AME, has been training by running laps around the school basketball court during recess and rising early to exercise at home.

Her mom, Lindy Gilbert, president of Lux Carts, at 309 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, said her daughter has participated in the run every year since kindergarten.

“She absolutely loves running and loves the opportunity to give it her best — to give it her all,” Gilbert said in an interview Jan. 10. “It’s really great to see that.”

Competitiveness drives Gabriella to participate, and her zeal drives her mom to run.

“She always wants mommy to run with her, and then she leaves me in the dust,” Gilbert said. “I’m usually bringing up the rear with all my friends.”

Whether finishing first or last, Gilbert said it is impossible not to have a good time at the event.

“I haven’t found another group activity that just makes you feel so good!” she said. “Everybody cheers you on. Everybody comes together. You always seem to perform better than your fears make you think you might. It’s all positive, and I wish everyone on the island could share in the experience because it is wonderful.”

Principal Jackie Featherston said in an interview Jan. 7 that she is excited for the race, and will enjoy it from the sidelines.

“I don’t do the run,” she said. “Mostly I help with the setup and stuff like that. I’ll do whatever needs to be done to keep it running smoothly.”

The event, coordinated by Kelly Gitt and supported by the Bradenton Runners Club, will benefit the AME Parent-Teacher Organization.

Nichole Teich, president of the PTO, said in an interview Jan. 11 the race is the third-biggest annual fundraiser for the organization, behind the fall fest and spring gala.

The race will be Jan. 19, with registration at 7 a.m. in the south parking lot at AME, 4700 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

The 5K will begin at 8 a.m. and the 1-Mile Fun Run will start at 9 a.m. After the race, awards will be presented and every participant will receive a race swag bag.

“Just come and be there and go for it,” Gilbert said. “It’s all good. Even if you walk or if you get cramps, everybody is cheering you on and rallying around each other. Honestly, I don’t see how anything negative could come from it. Whatever happens, it’s going to end up being positive and as a really great memory for everyone.”

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