ShareThis Page

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

| Tuesday, March 4, 2014, 4:03 p.m.
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.
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:

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

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.