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Queen of Martyrs kids hit gym to raise funds

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The word "walkathon" was a bit of a misnomer as some 50 nursery school and kindergarten students at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs School in Forest Hills leaped, danced, hopped and spun around the gym last week to raise money for less fortunate children.

The school is on track to bring in more than $25,000 this year, which will go to Well of Hope, to build a well in the Nigerian hometown of one of the school's priests — as well as to defray tuition costs at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in the coming year, said John Doyle, the walk organizer.

"It's a fund-raiser for the school and it teaches civic responsibility," said Ken Kerrigan, who acted as disc jockey for the kids as his daughter took part in the walkathon. "And one of the priests, Father Simon, is from Africa and they're raising money to build a well in his village. So they're helping kids with things they take for granted, like getting a drink of water."

The students began the walkathon in shifts after rain forced them indoors instead of marching through Forest Hills Gardens as originally planned, but nothing dampened the enthusiasm.

Kerrigan ordered them to freeze, hop on one foot and scream with the music. He even called out grown-ups who failed to freeze — much to the kids' amusement. Some children walked hand in hand with a parent, others leaped over the traffic cones marking the edges of the track. On cue, they screamed to the '80s hit "Walking on Sunshine."

"Our goal was to raise $25,000 and we're going to surpass it and probably raise $30,000," Doyle said.

The kids do all the work, Kerrigan said.

"The kids bring in these lists of names, like their parents' Christmas card lists, and they write letters and send them off themselves," he said. "If they get $5 back, it goes into the fund, and it adds up."

Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at achristodoulides@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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