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Billings Senior High Student Creates Fundraiser For Homeless Peers

Laps4Life, an event to raise money for homeless high school students, kicks off September 21 at 4 P.M.
Laps4Life, an event to raise money for homeless high school students, kicks off September 21 at 4 P.M.

Laps 4 Life

This Saturday, athletes from Billings’ three public high schools will work together to raise money and awareness for a group of their fellow students.

It was an article in the student newspaper at Billings Senior High School that gave Jesse Dimich-Louvet his "a-ha moment." At the time, the Billings Senior High student was searching for a topic for his platinum project, an undertaking that benefits the community required of all honors and Advanced Placement students. The two things came together.

"To read that article really kind of opened my mind and said maybe we can do that, we can raise awareness for the cause through the means of sport," Dimich-Louvet said. 

So Dimich-Louvet contacted the three high schools and their coaches and invited them to come together for a fun run or walk around the track at Daylis Stadium, a place where Senior, West and Skyview usually compete against each other.

"To all to be walking or running around the track in the same….not wanting to be to beat each other is also kind of fun and will be new. We’ve never had the three high schools come together and not be competing against each other," Dimich-Louvet mentioned. 

And that’s Laps4Life, Dimich-Louvet’s project to support and raise funds for homeless teens.

High school athletes, club members, other student groups, even alumni, will complete 15-minute heats either running or walking. Each participant pays $10 dollars to enter.

Laps4Life is also a party. Admission of Daylis will be free for Laps4Life event and there will be music, concessions, balloons and prizes.

The fees, as well as sponsorships he’s collected, will go to the Billings Education Foundation for use by Sue Runkle, who works with homeless students in the school district.

Runkle says last year there were some 164 homeless students in Billings’ three public high schools.

Runkle says it's a challenge for these students to stay in school.

"There are a lot of obstacles," she says. "There’s the obstacles of just the transportation. They may not be in the same place every night. And so getting that way to school every morning may be in issue. Maybe working late and being able to get up and get to school. The challenge is that way. Challenges of maybe having to work instead of going to school or having to stay at home and watch siblings that are not in school."

Runkle says the needs of these students vary. She has a grant that she can use to help to provide money for transportation, school supplies or anything that is a barrier to their schooling. But there are things her grant money cannot buy.

"I’ve bought sleeping bags and air mattresses for kids that are sleeping on a couch which makes it a little easier for them to have a place to stay. Sometimes it’s for clothing or food items, whatever the student needs to survive," Runkle says. 

Jesse Dimich-Louvet says that nearly five percent of his peers do not have a home to go to at night is not acceptable. High school is hard enough without being homeless.

Laps4Life is from 4 to 6 P.M. on Saturday, September 21, at Daylis Stadium in Billings.

Copyright 2019 Yellowstone Public Radio

Kay Erickson has been working in broadcasting in Billings for more than 20 years. She spent well over a decade as news assignment editor at KTVQ-TV before joining the staff at YPR. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a degree in broadcast journalism. Shortly after graduation she worked in Great Falls where she was one of the first female sports anchor and reporter in Montana.
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