Sole support Dads lend a hand with their feet at hiking fundraiser |

Sole support Dads lend a hand with their feet at hiking fundraiser

With the scent of spring in the air and abounding sunshine all day long, it sure is a good time for hiking. But some, like Nevada City resident Rick Sharkey, hike with a purpose.

For the past three years, Sharkey has participated in “Dads at the Diggins,” an annual walk for men to raise money for Nevada City Schools Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports programs in schools in the Nevada City school district.

This year the walk will take place Saturday at Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Entry fee to the event is $50, and it is restricted to male adults.

Hikers can register at any of the five schools in the Nevada City school district – Home Study Charter School, Gold Run School, Nevada City Elementary School, Deer Creek School and Seven Hills School – or register on Saturday on location.

The hike will be followed by a family oriented party with a live band and a silent and live auction at North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center in Nevada City.

“What ‘Dads’ does is, it raises money and gives it to the (Nevada City Schools) Foundation,” said Sharkey, who’s a volunteer at this year’s event and also its publicity and marketing coordinator. “The foundation receives specific funding requests from the administrations of the different schools and then the foundation does their best to fund those requests.”

Trish Gerving, chairman of the Nevada City Schools Foundation, said Dads at the Diggins and Moms in the Mountains – a women’s walk in the fall – have raised close to $200,000 for the Nevada City school district. While the Dads hike has been going on for the past three years, the Moms event has taken place for a little more than a decade.

“The foundation’s focus has always been (to fund) arts and technology,” Gerving said. “We’ve expanded that in the last couple of years because the state funding has been reduced to the schools. We created a new category called ‘student support.’ That would entail things like physical education. We help pay for instructional assistants. We pay for librarians. Along those lines, that’s where ‘student support’ would fall.”

Deer Creek School in Nevada City is one of the institutes that benefits from Dads.

“For the last four years since the cuts at the state level, we’ve been focusing on our production lab, which is a science lab, and rotation (period),” said Deer Creek Principal Mike McGarr. “The rotation period is every day (when) the kids, on a rotating basis, go to a different class that’s taught by specialists like an art specialist, a physical education specialist, a health specialist, a computer specialist, and a music specialist.”

McGarr has participated in the hike in the past two years.

“It was a great experience,” he recalled. “Last year, I ran a great deal because I had to get back home soon. But the year before, I walked the whole thing, which was about 10 miles. Of course, the landscape is beautiful and gorgeous. You go through a lot of different terrain and you are close to the river for a part of the hike. It’s really nice. Lots of camaraderie, lots of story-telling and talking.”

Last year, 63 registered hikers joined the event and helped raise $13,000, Sharkey said. The participants included parents of children who are in local schools and other local residents.

“My personal motivation for helping is that my two daughters, who are presently enrolled at Nevada Union High School, came through the Nevada City school district system from kindergarten through eighth grade,” Sharkey said. “They received a great education in all the grades, and this is my way of saying thank you, by helping the schools foundation with fundraising so that other children can benefit as my kids did.”

For McGarr, Dads at the Diggins provides a good opportunity for socializing.

“I think it’s one of those events which is a win-win situation for everybody,” he said. “It’s a good way to bring the community together and to get to know the parents in a different situation outside school.”


To contact staff writer Soumitro Sen, e-mail or call 477-4229.

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