NORMAN, Okla. -- The Oklahoma men's gymnastics team cheered on their friends at Cleveland Elementary for the school's annual Jog-A-Thon on Thursday.
The Sooner gymnasts and the elementary have a long-standing partnership in which the team helps children at the Norman-based school at a variety of events throughout the year. Yet it's the student-athletes that arguably benefit the most.
"Making people happy is the baseline of it all," said senior Raymond White. "We made a bunch of people happy and I can't complain about that."
The Jog-A-Thon is the school's lone fundraiser on the year. After seeking pledges from family, friends and neighbors according to how far they run, the children have a fun day of fitness that also aids the school.
Members of the team went to Cleveland throughout the day to cheer on, encourage, give high fives and even run with their younger student counterparts.
OU junior Dylan Akers ran (and walked) with the Kindergarteners. Now in his third year working with Cleveland, he described how one of his favorite things in working with students is watching them improve.
"Whenever we'd run by them and cheer them on they'd start running, too," Akers said. "The best thing I've experienced is seeing the kids learn and grow as you spend more time wth them and knowing you helped them. Last year I saw improvement with everyone in the class I was with and I hope that my class this year will be the same."
White told the story of one Kindergarten boy who showed particular dedication. Despite losing a shoe on the first lap, he kept going another five or six laps before the shoe could and boy could both be located at the same.
"He didn't care," White said. "He kept on trucking!"
OU will continue to make frequent visits to the elementary throughout the year, helping the students find success academically and in other aspects of their lives as the voluntter both inside and outside of class.