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Mad Dash to raise money for St. Paul's youth mission work

| Tuesday, March 4, 2014, 4:03 p.m.
Sandy McKnight (left) volunteer organizer, and Tami Weisner, director of Youth Ministries at St. Paul’s United Methodist, are gearing up for the March Mad Dash on March 8 in North Park.
Deborah Deasy | Hampton Journal
Sandy McKnight (left) volunteer organizer, and Tami Weisner, director of Youth Ministries at St. Paul’s United Methodist, are gearing up for the March Mad Dash on March 8 in North Park.
Brooke Venturella, left, of North Hills High School, Kristen McKnight of Hampton High School, and Jessica Hunter of  Mars Area High School build a wheelchair ramp for Phyllis Waddell, back, in Oak Hill, W. Va.
Tami Weisner
Brooke Venturella, left, of North Hills High School, Kristen McKnight of Hampton High School, and Jessica Hunter of Mars Area High School build a wheelchair ramp for Phyllis Waddell, back, in Oak Hill, W. Va.

Doing home repairs for the disadvantaged pays rewards for youths at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Hampton.

“I think it's an eye-opener,” parent Sandy McKnight of Hampton said about the experience gained by area teenagers.

“It definitely makes them more mature. They definitely see things they would not have seen.”

This year, about 50 teenagers and adults from St. Paul's United Methodist Church will travel by bus to Loveland, Colo. to perform home repairs and demolition work for flood victims.

To help pay for such trips, McKnight helps organize the fundraising. The fourth annual March Mad Dash will start at 9 a.m. March 8 at the boathouse in North Park.

Admission is $25 for the event's 5K and 5-mile races, and $30 for a 10-mile races. Walkers are welcome.

Elite to novice runners routinely enter the events, along with a number of middle-age people who simply walk the 5K course.

Everyone will get a red, long-sleeve, moisture-wicking “technical” T-shirt.

Hot soup and other foods will be available after the races.

“In the last couple of years, we've raised between $12,000 and $15,000,” said Tami Weisner, director of youth ministries at St. Paul's United Methodist Church.

“Every dollar of that goes to our students serving in service opportunities,” Weisner said. “They are primarily home repairs, and disaster recovery.”

Each July, teams of middle school students from St. Paul's Church perform home repairs for elderly or disabled people in Pittsburgh area neighborhoods. The North Side-based Pittsburgh Project coordinates the projects.

Each year, high school students from St. Paul's Church also do out-of-state home repairs for those who cannot afford to pay for their own, or disaster recovery projects.

“It could be putting in new floors, new walls,” Weisner said,

Last summer, dozens of the church's teenagers helped build a 40-foot ramp for Phyllis Waddell, a widow in Oak Hill, W.Va.

“We went to her house every day, and we got to talk to her. She was this amazing person,” said Kristen McKnight, 17, a junior at Hampton High School who made the trip to West Virginia.

“It was amazing to see how we being there affected her, and how grateful she was,” Kristen said.

“She lost her husband. She had diabetes. She was going to lose her legs,” Kristen said. “She was so willing to give us things that we needed for the job. ... ‘It ain't much,' she'd say.

“It was just great to see how God worked in her life,” Kristen said. “She kind of passed that on to us.”

Students from a handful of school districts, including North Allegheny, Hampton, Shaler Area and Mars Area, participate in youth ministry activities at St. Paul United Methodist Church.

“It's a great way to make friends,” Kristen said.

To register for the March Mad Dash, visit the event's online site: www.marchmaddash.com.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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