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          Front Page




Teacher Running 50 Miles To Raise Money To Send Needy Kids to Private Schools

By Russell Contreras
Journal Staff Writer
    Running 50-mile ultramarathons were Tim Walsh's way of dealing with stress.
    After all, he was turning 40, taking care of family, teaching full-time and working on a Ph.D.
    That was 18 years ago.
    This weekend, the 58-year-old Walsh is running another ultramarathon, but this time it's for something more than stress.
    The Chelwood Elementary teacher is participating in the "2005 Tahoe Rim Trail 50-Mile Endurance Run" in Nevada on Saturday to raise money for low-income kids who want to attend private schools. For every mile Walsh completes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Educate New Mexico gets a donation from sponsors.
    Yes, this is all for a good cause, but isn't it nutty for a 58-year-old to tackle a 50-mile run?
    "Yeah, he's crazy," says Troy Williamson, president of Educate New Mexico, a private group that raises money for kids to attend private schools. "He's kind of an animal that way."
    Walsh doesn't disagree that it's a crazy idea. But if the pain of a 50-mile race puts a couple more kids in independent schools, Walsh says, "so be it."
    Walsh has been committed to Educate New Mexico ever since his daughter dropped out of high school a few years ago.
    The Nevada race has an elevation between 7,000 feet and 9,214 feet throughout the course. According to the race's Web site, the scenic route will give runners a "glimpse of heaven, a taste of hell."
    Walsh says combining his passion for running with his passion for school choice is natural for him. He says that's how he came up with the idea of a "donor challenge" to help raise money for additional scholarships for Educate New Mexico.
    Donors can pledge from $1 a mile to $20 a mile through Educate New Mexico's Web site: www.educatenm.org.
    Education New Mexico has a waiting list of 7,000 low-income students wanting tuition assistance to attend private schools, says Walsh.
    Since 2000, the group has given out more than $1 million in scholarships to more than 600 students. Average income of the students' families is about $25,000 a year, according to the group's records.
    Walsh says he doesn't expect to win the race, but he expects to finish and he expects some pain. "I don't race like I used to," he says. "I've just slowed down, man."