White House Helps Honor Former Teacher's Healthy Ways

Posted at: 05/17/2013 6:45 PM
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- For more than 30 years, students at Bamber Valley Elementary in Rochester have worked to stay fit by running a mile each morning before class every spring. The program has gotten the attention of the Minnesota Department of Education and the First Lady. But Friday, the focus was on the former gym teacher who came up with the idea back in 1978.

These Bamber Valley Elementary students may not know Ardell Olson as their gym teacher. But they still appreciate what he's brought to their school.

Ardell was once the gym teacher here, and more than 30 years ago he had an idea to get these kids excited about exercising.

"They're very energetic and it was just something to do to get rid of that, because then when they got in the classroom they were ready to sit down and do some things," said Ardell Olson, former physical education teacher at Bamber Valley Elementary.

The tradition now called "Mr. Olson Morning Run" is a goal many students work for.

"Kids are a little more sedentary now with the different video games and things that they can do and it's a struggle but kids feel food when they're done," said Physical Education Teacher Aaron Neurer.

While it was a little too wet Friday morning to run outside, for three weeks now 800 kids have started their day by running a mile.

"We're well over 500,000 miles logged in the past 35 years so looking forward to maybe getting a million here," said Neurer.

Students piled into the gym instead to celebrate 35 years of running and they're not the only ones who recognize Ardell's commitment to keeping kids healthy.

Surprising Ardell with a handful of certificates, including one from the first lady. 

"This is very very incredible and I've had tears in my eyes more than once today because it's way more than I ever expected," said Olson.