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5/25/2012 8:59:00 AM
'Wild Life' show touches lives of middle schoolers
Catholic Charities photo
Students from a Catholic Charities program open new skateboarding gear.
Catholic Charities photo
Students from a Catholic Charities program open new skateboarding gear.

Students at Ron Russell Middle School were treated to a surprise visit from adventure host Jeremy McLaughlin in May, when his Comcast show "The Wild Life with Jeremy" visited the Catholic Charities El Programa Hispano Schools Uniting Neighborhoods program.

The show follows McLaughlin as he navigates the Northwest and takes on outdoor challenges using geocaching as he searches for hidden clues and coordinates that lead him from checkpoint to checkpoint; all the while, gaining donations for charities close to his heart.

Ron Russell students got involved after McLaughlin heard about the after school program, which provides a mix of academic and extracurricular options for students, 87 percent of whom are recipients of free and reduced lunch.

When asked what would be a nice addition to their equipment room, several students spoke about a want for additional skateboarding equipment for one of their classes.

“We have a skateboarding class that meets twice a week and it would be really nice to have some new helmets, boards and ramps,” said seventh grader Zachery Collings.

Collings has been involved with the Catholic Charities program since the beginning of the school year in an effort to improve his grades and take part in the fun classes.

During their visit, The Wild Life production crew followed the skateboarding class to Ed Benedict Park where the kids met up with McLaughlin and then received a surprise donation of skateboarding equipment, donated by Next Adventure.

“It’s a real treat for the students to have new equipment and get to see what behind the scenes production of a TV show is like all in one day,” said Caris Rodriguez, coordinator of the after school program. “The students are like sponges at this age, so getting exposed to new things is a big deal.”

In this particular episode, McLaughlin is put to the test when he cruises dunes at Sand Lake, then is caught in a dangerous sand cliff by the incoming ocean, and swims in the frigid Pacific Ocean to get his target on Haystack Rock, all for the kids at Ron Russell Schools Uniting Neighborhoods School. The episode airs at 7 p.m. Friday, June 22.

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