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Wenatchee High School swimmers pose for celebration picture after last year’s Panthalon fundraiser. This year’s event, set for Saturday, includes swimming and cross country athletes.

WENATCHEE — Wenatchee High School swimmers, divers and cross country runners have turned what otherwise would be just another Saturday morning workout into a way to help someone in need.

The Panthalon starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at the WHS track and swimming pool. Athletes will push to complete a 1-mile swim and a 3-mile run to earn funds pledged by fellow classmates, parents and community members. Spectators are invited to join in the fun, not only cheering on the swimmers and runners, but to kick in extra funds by paying divers to do specialty dives — including belly flops. Donations also will be accepted for baked goods and hot chocolate.

“We want as many people as possible to watch the event,” said ASB President Kelly Norland, a swimmer who last year helped found the Panthalon. “There’s seating available at the track and the pool.”

Proceeds will go to a WHS family in need. Last year’s Panthalon raised $2,000 for the Lewis family. Lora Lewis is fighting an inoperable brain tumor. She and Doug Lewis’ youngest son, Walker, is a 2019 WHS grad.

The goal is to raise $5,000 this year, Norland said. The family receiving the money this year has asked to remain anonymous.

Norland is working with WHS junior Sierra Hartley, who also is on the swim team, to organize this year’s project, which has expanded to include the cross country team.

“They wanted to be in on it last year, but it all happened so quick, we didn’t have time,” Norland said. “This year, we had more time, so we could include them. They’re excited to do it.”

The event initially came together when the swim team started brainstorming ways to get more out of their Saturday morning practices.

“The coaches wanted us to do a duathlon,” Norland said. “We thought, why not make it a fundraiser. It worked out so well, this year we’re doing it as part of the Leadership Class.”

In all, about 80 students are participating in the Panthalon, either as competitors or helping organize it.

“We need people to watch, and there are plenty of ways to donate,” Norland said, including the dives and the bake sale. “If you know a cross country runner or swimmer, you can also sponsor them.”

The WHS Leadership Class also is gearing up for its trick-or-treating event from 6 to 8 p.m. Halloween night. Instead of candy, students will be knocking on doors in Wenatchee neighborhoods asking for canned food and nonperishables for the school’s Panther House, a food bank available to students. WHS Junior Class President JT Dodge is the organizer.

For information, call the high school at 663-8117.

Nevonne McDaniels: 664-7151

mcdaniels@wenatcheeworld.com