A Gahanna Christian school looks to foster community service via a fundraiser that will help a foster-care agency.

A Gahanna Christian school looks to foster community service via a fundraiser that will help a foster-care agency.

Gahanna's Shepherd Christian School has scheduled a charity walkathon for noon to 2 p.m. Friday, May 8. Ten percent of the proceeds will go to the Pennsylvania-based Bair Foundation, a Christian-based foster-care agency with offices also in Ohio, Texas, Virginia, South Carolina, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

Brian Gifford, a Shepherd Christian School board member and whose fourth-grade and kindergarten children attend, said the walkathon is in its eighth year, adding that the students choose a different organization on Election Day every year.

Gifford said the goal in the past has been to raise $10,000 through the event. Last year, he said, the students met that goal, with a portion of the proceeds going to Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps children with cancer.

The other 90 percent of proceeds from this year's event will be used to enhance the school's playground.

Gifford said the school's 150 students in grades K-5 will begin at noon, walking around the parking lot. Each lap is one-fourth of a mile, he said. Sponsorships are based on either a flat rate for the walk or a set amount per lap. In addition, he said, some of the students at the preschool, Little Lambs Children's Center, also might participate.

"It's a way to teach students to serve others and be community-minded," Gifford said.

Students won't be alone, though. The Rev. Sam Barber, pastor of Shepherd Church of the Nazarene, which oversees the school, will join them. Barber has agreed to jog around the makeshift track, up to 15 or 16 miles, "maybe 20." Barber's run will come on the heels of another event for which he's registered: the Capital City Half Marathon on May 2.

"It's (marathon) a great event, and I have run it several times," he said. "In fact, there is a whole group from Shepherd church who are running or walking the event this year."

Barber said he had decided to raise some money for a ministry at the church by getting sponsors for the marathon.

"So far, I'm on pace to raise over $1,000 for a great ministry in our church called Celebrate Recovery," he said.

As for the marathon and walkathon being six days apart, Barber isn't worried, he said.

"I have been training for some time for the half marathon (13.1 miles) and feel pretty strong this year," he said.

Barber, 42, has been a pastor for 20 years -- the past two years at Shepherd -- and has been running for about 25 years after having played college basketball at Mount Vernon Nazarene College (now University). He and his wife, Jill, have a son, Ross, a 16-year-old at Gahanna Lincoln High School.

Barber agreed with Gifford that one of the primary goals is to encourage the school's students to recognize the importance of serving others. He said he's also excited to spend some time with the students, faculty and staff.

"We have a great school, and I love every chance I get to be with them," he said.

The school's parent-teacher organization is sponsoring the walkathon.

Shepherd Christian School is at 425 S. Hamilton Road, Gahanna. For more information, call (614) 471-0859.

shummel@thisweeknews.com