Jackie Lallo

RICHFIELD: Inspired, happy children leaped onto their school track at Hillcrest Elementary early Tuesday. As they laughed and raced each other, their motivation was more than just beating their classmates to the finish line.


After listening to an educational presentation from the Diabetes Partnership of Cleveland earlier this year, students in Debbie Schwertner’s second-grade class decided they wanted to do something to help. Coming up with the idea all on their own, they kicked their event — Tuesday’s walkathon outside their school in the Revere district — into high gear.


The whole school got involved. Kindergarten to third grade, teachers sent home a packet with all the information needed to donate. The children asked friends and family to donate, and after three weeks they reached more than $7,000.


“We thought it would be fun for other people to do, and we really wanted to help,” said Alexis Zapisek, a student in Schwertner’s class. She said she and her classmaters were inspired after seeing a play called Snow White and the Diabetes Bag and learning that a few classmates have diabetes.


Emma Grushell and Gabrielle Aquino excitedly described the people bringing in donations.


“A lot of people came in with donations. They kept coming and going, coming and going. They did that a lot,” the girls said.


Holding hands and dancing around Slider from the Cleveland Indians, students walked around the track for three hours in support of those affected by diabetes. Many wore “Hillcrest Walks for Diabetes” shirts to help spread the word.


Zippy from the University of Akron also made an appearance to show support for the students and the effort they put into their walk.


“The leadership was all done by the students,” Hillcrest Principal Katie Kowza said. “We are so proud of them for raising over $7,000.”


Jackie Lallo can be reached at jackielallo@gmail.com.