The Wanderer congratulates Kevin J. Woodward for receiving one of its 19th Annual Keel Awards, which honor nominees from Rochester, Marion and Mattapoisett who have gone above and beyond with service to their community.
Woodward is the winner for the town of Rochester. Recently, Woodward, who grew up in Rochester and attended RMS and ORR, decided that RMS needed to do something about its lack of a proper area for students to get some sort of physical activity at recess. At the time, they were playing in a parking lot.
“RMS was undergoing renovation expansion,” Woodward said. He said that, initially, the budget for the renovation allowed for the construction of a playground, but that it eventually was removed from the budget.
“We tried to raise some money to build something that will service our kids at the schools,” he said.
Woodward said they did so by combining a traditional walk-a-thon with RMS’s field day, calling it the “Miles for Memorial Fitness Challenge.” The challenge involved students walking a 2-mile loop, as well as several other physical activities, with the idea of promoting fitness as well as to raise money for the new playground.
Students were asked to get sponsors on a per-mile or flat rate. The result was that the students helped to raise more than $25,000, which eventually led to the construction of the new playground, which breaks ground on August 10.
“I’m super fortunate to have had the backing of this kind of community,” he said. “We’re looking forward to August 10, and counting on some parents and volunteers to have something in place to welcome our kids back to school in the fall. It’s been a long time coming.”
Woodward added that some of the current students at RMS have been without a playground for at least four years, and that they’ve been involved in the whole process from its inception.
“This will be all new for them,” he said. “They were there for the whole experience.”
by Nick Walecka