Beacon Elementary has a new walking path, thanks to the school's Parent-Teacher Organization and Pete Miller.

Beacon Elementary has a new walking path, thanks to the school's Parent-Teacher Organization and Pete Miller.

"Every other year, the PTO tries to concentrate on a large project of some sort, whether it's an improvement inside or outside the building," PTO member Michelle Howell said. "The kids usually had to walk through the grass, so we thought it would be nice to at least look into to getting a walking path, and a lot of the other schools in the Hilliard district also have them."

The project was estimated to cost $24,000, but retired Hilliard resident Miller, who worked in the asphalt paving business for 43 years, volunteered to do some of the work, and it only cost about $15,000.

"I said, 'I'll save you a few bucks,' " Miller said. "I'll go scavenge some equipment someplace and do the excavation and put the stone in for you, and all you have to pay for was the stone. When you're ready to do that, give me a call, and that's what I did."

Eramo & Sons donated their Bobcat equipment and McMillen Paving assisted with the path, which was installed Aug. 20.

The one-fifth mile paved circular walking path in back of the school was dedicated Sept. 16, when Miller was presented with a Superman cape with the letter B and a signed card from the students.

"We're old-time Hilliard folks," Miller said. "We moved here Aug. 10, 1958. It's nice to be able to help the school system and see all these kids do their thing."

Today (Sept. 30), the PTO will hold its annual fundraiser, a Walkathon, on the path.

"Each grade will walk for one hour, and the kids will get pledges from family, friends and neighbors," Howell said. "The kids' parents, grandparents, guardians can walk with them. Our teachers go out and participate also.

"The top eight fundraisers get to go on a limo ride with the principal and go to lunch," she said.

The walking path will have lasting benefits to Beacon, Principal Jane Leach said.

"It means that we can increase the physical activity of our children and give them another option of something to do," Leach said. "Not everyone enjoys playing soccer, foursquare or jump rope, but they love walking with their friends around the path."

Leach is seeking a grant for pedometers that students can check out during recess to measure their steps. The student-run walking club's data will then be used in math or social studies, she said.

"It fosters a lifelong passion for physical fitness," Leach said of the path. "All the research shows that when you increase children's physical activity, they improve academically."