Kate Byrd is the librarian at Belton Elementary School in upstate South Carolina. Under Kate’s direction, the student body conducts a biennial fundraiser to support the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program.
Since she began teaching, Kate had always wanted to hold a Read-a-Thon for her students. After hearing a colleague speak so passionately about the plight of sea turtles and the Sea Turtle Hospital, she knew she had found a cause worthy of her support.
She organized the inaugural Love the Loggerheads Read-a-Thon in 2007. The Read-a-Thon started out as a project for the school’s third-graders because the Sea Turtle Hospital’s work aligned so well with their curriculum, but soon thereafter, the entire school began to participate.
“I want to give children an idea that they can make an impact,” she says. “Children are powerful. They can be very good messengers if we just listen to them.”
Although the students’ individual gifts may seem modest, their collective impact is extraordinary. Their Read-a-Thons average nearly $3,000 in funds raised, and over the entire course of their giving, Belton students have raised more than $15,500 to support the Sea Turtle Rescue Program.
For Kate, the Read-a-Thon is a labor of love and a way to inspire the next generation. “I believe that we’re borrowing the earth,” she says. “We’ve got to leave it in a better position for our children. This is our way of coming together to make conditions right and give animals a helping hand.”
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