By Julie Shapiro
BATTERY PARK CITY — Row upon row of students pressed toward the starting line in Wagner Park Friday afternoon, moments before the annual Run for Knowledge began.
"We want to run! We want to run!" they chanted, as rain spattered the paper numbers pinned to their chests.
After several delays, a parent waving an orange flag shouted "Go!" into his megaphone, then quickly hopped out of the way to avoid being trampled by the waves of local elementary and middle school children.
The students had good reason to be enthusiastic. For the past 10 years, the Run for Knowledge has raised thousands of dollars to support Battery Park City’s schools.
As the neighborhood has grown, so has the number of participants. Kindergarteners at the new P.S. 276 joined the race for the first time last year, and this year’s run drew even more students from 276, along with hundreds from P.S./I.S. 89.
More school children, though, means greater need for the funds.
"The budget cuts have been debilitating," said Lesa Tinker, a P.S. 89 parent who helped organize the run. "With these funds coming in, we can keep the schools at the level we want."
Tinker said she hoped to raise $40,000 through donations and corporate sponsors. The money supports the schools’ libraries, pays for enrichment activities and sends teachers to professional development seminars, Tinker said.
On Friday afternoon, the mile-long race ended in Rockefeller Park, and then the triumphant students made their way over to P.S. 89’s schoolyard, where they piled onto carnival rides and enjoyed food donated by local restaurants.
"This is an amazing turnout," Tinker said as she surveyed the crowd. "It’s definitely bigger than previous years."