Literacy begins in infancy.  Parents, guardians, caregivers and schools should provide a rich literacy environment in order to help our Cumberland County students acquire literacy skills.    
      The Cumberland County Education Foundation and Cumberland County Schools will tout the benefits of literacy at the Reading Rocks Walk-A- Thon on Saturday, Nov. 1 at 9 a.m. in Festival Park in downtown Fayetteville.  Registration begins at 8 a.m.
      “This is our fabulous fifth year that we have had the Reading Rocks walk-a-thon to celebrate literacy,” said Belinda Cashwell, director of media services for the Cumberland County Schools System. “It is our only countywide signature program within the greater Fayetteville area.” 
      {mosimage}The fundraiser began in 2004 when the Cumberland County Schools, in partnership with the Cumberland County Education Foundation, brought together more than 4,000 people in downtown Fayetteville to participate in the first annual Reading Rocks Walk-A-Thon. Cumberland County Schools raised more than $100,000 to buy additional books to enhance classroom libraries. Since then the annual fundraiser has become a huge success and continues to expand.  The books are processed through the schools’ media centers and used in the classroom setting.    
      To meet this year’s goal, Fabulous Fifteen, 15,000 walkers are needed at the event. “Last year the schools raised over $100,000,” said Cashwell.  “This year we raised over $101,000 and that is amazing considering how the economy is.” 
      The 1.5 mile walk will begin in Festival Park. “The route will be the same as last year but will be done in reverse,” said Cashwell.  The Cumberland County Education Foundation will have coffee and doughnuts for sale and Rush Campus Ministries will provide bottled water for all walkers.
     The kickoff for the event features Dr. William Harrison, superintendent of Cumberland County Schools and his cabinet members, CCS Board Members, Mayor Tony Chavonne, the CCS Teacher of the Year Karen Koonce, the North Carolina Teacher of the Year Cindi Rigsbee, Media Coordinator of the Year Jody Phillips, county commissioners and city council members. Recognition will be given to the most improved schools, schools that raised the most in donations and raised the most money per capita. 
     The band of the high school that raises the most money will lead the walk along with the elementary, middle and high schools that raised the most money. There will be many high school bands participating this year and they will be stationed along the route to play for the participants as they walk. “It is an exciting day for the community to celebrate literacy,” said Cashwell. “All 87 Cumberland County Schools will participate.”     
     Donations can be designated to a specific Cumberland County School or to the countywide fund that will be distributed equitably among all schools.  All donations are tax deductible.  Donations can also be submitted to the Cumberland County Education Foundation at P.O. Box 2882, Fayetteville, North Carolina 28302.
      “We look forward to seeing everyone at the walk-a-thon,” said Cashwell. “We are asking that everyone be on time by 8 a.m. due to the inside perimeter of the downtown area being closed off for the walk.” 
      For more information contact Cumberland County Media Services at 678-2613 or the Cumberland County Education Foundation at 221-8800.  No pets are allowed at the event. 

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