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Updated: 12/26/2013 09:42:05AM

Teacher runs to raise funds for students’ iPads

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Teacher Rafael Martin prepares for his 50-mile run to Polk State College Lakeland campus from Lake Wales on Friday to raise funds for ipads for the students at the Our Children's Academy MiddleSchool in Lake Wales.


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Rafael Martin, a science and agriculture teacher at Our Children’s Academy Middle School in Lake Wales, is all about the students. So much so that he ran from Lake Wales to Lakeland, 50 miles, for a cause. Not just any cause, but for the school children. He ran to raise funds for iPads for student education.

At 5 a.m. Friday, Martin left the middle school site for Lakeland’s Polk State College campus.

“I arrived at 11:45 a.m. and students at the college greeted me with banners,” Martin said. “So far I have raised $1,000 with Beef O’Brady’s donating $250 and a private donor from the First Presbyterian Church in Lake Wales, donating $250. Now if we can get a discount, we can have a set — 10 (iPads).”

“It is difficult for teachers to pull small groups to work with within the classroom because the other students have to be engaged and have something to be doing,” said Principal Steve Whitaker. “With iPods or iPads, the teachers can work in smaller groups and have the other students working on the iPads learning information. The other children in the classroom need to have something to do and that is especially true for kids with special needs who need more direction.”

Whitaker explains the iPad’s apps can be created by the teachers so students can review lessons they missed from illness, can review information or learn new information on the iPad programs.

“They can play fun learning games based on academics that reinforces their learning and better use this free time,” Whitaker said. “The iPads are hand held and small and easy to transport.”

He said the school would love 70 iPads enough for all students, “it is best to dream big, but if we could purchase six to 10, we can rotate among the teachers and get teachers to be more creative.”

Whitaker says he has contacted Apple and has been encouraged that when Whitaker and Martin have some funds, the company will try to work with them so they can “get the most bang back for our budget.”

This was not Martin’s first run for charity.

“This was my eighth one,” Martin said. “I started in 2010 when I was at Tenoroc High School and wanted to get calculators for mathematics. I got them and what with the media attention at the time I raised $2,000.

“Every year I run for cancer and do 50-mile runs,” Martin said of his claimed addiction to running. “I lost my mother and uncle to cancer, have an aunt who had radiation for breast cancer. In my opinion, the incidents of cancer are far more severe. Everyone knows someone with cancer and the government should take a lead in fighting cancer but their seems no interest. My mom lost her job and her house, giving the house to my brother and me because she saw (expense) what was coming. That is why I run for cancer.”

Martin will be increasing his running to 250 miles March 21-25, 2014 for the Relay for Life running from Lake Wales to Tallahassee.

“It should take four to five days and the reason I am running to Tallahassee is because the state has been cutting funds and I want to ask them to stop that.”

Martin was out running Monday morning after taking a couple days off from his Friday event.

“I normally get kind of sore after that long run so take a couple days off,” Martin said who runs several days a week. “But I think I am addicted to running.”

Anyone wishing to donate funds for the OCA iPads for students can send checks or money orders to Our Children’s Middle Academy, writing “50 mile run” in the subject line, and mail them to: Our Children’s Middle Academy, 16 N. Third St., Lake Wales, FL 33853, or donate online at and find “Mr. Martin’s Run for Technology.”

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