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Pie, Pie, and More Pie

Earlier this summer, Jil asked if I would be interested in writing a blog post for the 10th Annual Princess Warrior Run, Walk, Roll, Stroll, or Crawl. I was obviously very humbled by this as this walk holds a special place in my heart, but at the same time, the first thought I had was “how in the world do I write a blog post?” So please, bear with me while I recount my memories of the first ever “Prince Warrior Walk”.

It was my senior year of high school and we were getting underway with all thing’s senior year, which included picking our National Honor Society projects. Myself and three of my friends, Evan VanErp, Macy Hartman, and Halley Maas (now Trochman) were fortunate enough to get to partake in, what in my opinion is one of the best NHS senior projects to date.

We had heard about Jane’s dream of putting together a 5K to raise money for childhood cancer research, but due to the bully that is cancer, she was unable to put it together herself. The four of us decided that we would take on the task of putting the walk together. I remember having a meeting over at the VanErp’s about what all this walk would entail. To be honest, deciding how it would look was pretty easy, mainly because Jane had already thought everything out. Our project turned into us trying carrying out Jane’s wishes and raising money to support finding a cure for childhood cancer.

The planning process on our side was quick. From start to finish it was less than three weeks. One of the reasons it was so quick is we decided very early in the planning process that it would be special if the walk took place on Jane’s 9th birthday (September 27th). With the help of other NHS members, school staff, local businesses, and too many others to list, we were off and running. We thought about ways we could raise money, and in addition to asking for donations, we thought we could sell t-shirts. With the help of a company in Staples, we designed orange shirts with the Team Jane logo on the front, and a quote from Big Time Rush on the back. “We are dancing in the stars no matter where we are” is a line from their song Elevate, which we thought was very fitting. One really cool thing with designing the shirts, was the company we were working with said that they would make all the shirts at cost so the money we would have spent on the shirts could go towards Cure Search, an organization who shared the same goal as Jane, to find a cure for childhood cancer.

Once we figured out exactly what we were going to do and when, we needed to figure out how we were going to do it. Since we were going to be doing the walk with students grades K-12, we didn’t think it was feasible to have 5-year old’s walk over three miles, so we decided that instead of a 5K, we would create a walk that had 5 stations, each one represented by a different organization or group. We had cheerleaders at one station cheering on walkers, Tri-County hospital had a station, we had a station blasting out Big Time Rush, and there was joy and laughter all along the way.

The last two stations were my personal favorites. Pie and bubbles! Jane said she envisioned people at the end of the walk having pie. I mean, can you think of a better reward at the end of a long walk than a nice slice of pie? The irony of this, was that Jane didn’t even like pie, but her wish was our command. We asked area businesses and churches make pies and by the end of the week, we had 150 pies and little space left in the school’s fridge. Standing on the bleachers at the high school football field with the other NHS members and seeing a sea of orange, all in support of Jane was pretty special. We capped off the walk by singing Happy Birthday, blowing bubbles, and presenting a check for Cure Search for almost $7,000.

When I look back at the walk and what it meant to me, it’s hard to put it into words. We were trying to help carry out Jane’s legacy, and in doing so, we learned a lot about ourselves. I personally decided to go into education for my love of kids, but I made the choice to come back to WDC to teach, largely because of the staff and community. Thinking about how every year, you can drive by the school in September and see Team Jane signs plastering the windows, or how people come and hand out cookies and wear tutu’s and crowns in memory of one special little girl, makes this a place you want to be. This is a community that is dedicated to remembering Jane. Jane left a lasting impression on so many, myself included. The Princess Warrior Walk is still one of my proudest accomplishments to this day.

Also, I am a big fan of coincidences, and Jane’s dream of having a 5K (3.1 miles) highlighted by pie (pi is 3.14) is just too good not to bring up.

About the Author: Brooke Umland is a WDC graduate and now a fourth grade teacher right here at Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary School. In addition to being a part of the original 5K planning committee, Brooke is extra special to the Princess Warrior committee because she was our first-ever Princess Warrior scholarship winner!


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