September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Michael and Margaret Johnson hosted the Milk Fun(d) Run the morning of June 8, to help raise money for students who can't afford milk during morning milk break at Fillmore Central Elementary School.
"The school was looking for money for the milk fund. There's a great need there for families who can't afford it," Michael said. "I wanted to do something to help them out."
The run started at the trail head of the Root River State Trail in Fountain, Minn., and continued 2.5 miles before the run ended at the Johnsons' farm, Trailside Holsteins. At the finish line, the Johnsons offered the runners milk (chocolate and white), snacks and time to tour the farm to learn more about dairy. About 100 people participated in the run.
When the Johnsons heard about the need for financial assistance for milk in the school, they started to brainstorm. Michael came up with the idea for the run in the beginning of 2013.
"Mike has always been a runner, and we participate in a lot of local races. We push our 10-month-old son, Sawyer, and make it a family activity," Margaret said.
Having a run on the Root River State Trail would incorporate their hobby and their dairy.
"With the trail right next to the farm, we felt like we should take advantage of it and tell our farming story. We wanted to incorporate the two together," Michael said.
The Johnsons started planning for the event. Although they were raising funds, they also wanted to keep the entry fee low. They suggested a donation of $15 for an individual and $40 for a family.
"We didn't want it to cost too much, especially for families," Michael said.
On the day of the event, many people gave more than the suggested donation. After tallying the total, the Johnsons raised $2,300 from the race to donate to the milk fund at Fillmore Central Elementary School.
"We had a really good response from the community. People were very generous and supportive with their money and time," Margaret said.
Chris Mensink participated in the race with his daughter, Lauren (8). As the dean of students and football coach at Fillmore Central, Mensink was excited to have the Johnsons help the community.
"Mike played football for me. He's a classy guy and always looking to help others out," Mensink said. "There's a great need for the milk assistance in the school. It's good to see a lot of kids out here."
Michael and Margaret said they wanted to do their part to help Fillmore Central elementary, which is where Michael went to school.
"Being a contributing part of the community is important to us," Michael said.
This also includes teaching others about dairy farming. It's why they ended the race at the farm - so they could give people farm tours.
"Even though we live in a rural community, it's surprising how uninformed people are about modern agriculture," Michael said.
The Johnsons hope to help change that, little by little; however, they couldn't have done it without the support from their family and friends. Michael and Margaret farm together with Michael's dad, Jon.
"It didn't take much for him to say yes when we brought the idea forward," Margaret said.
Jon likes that the next generation on the farm has taken initiative to be involved and help promote their product.
"They have really been working hard," Jon said about Margaret and Michael. "They have spent the last month preparing and this week of the race has been a big push to get everything done."
During the event, Jon watched as Michael and Margaret handled all the responsibilities of the race. His job came when everyone had crossed the finish line. He gave tours of the family's 480-cow dairy farm. Employees were also a big help the day of the event.
After the day was complete, there were four race winners: Isaac Ille, who won the boys 12 and under division with a time of 18:06; Emma Young, who was first in the girls 12 and under division with a time of 22:46; Sydney Ferrie, who won the women's division with a time of 18:30; and Alec Ille, who won the men's division and was overall winner with a time of 13:24.
Even though winners were named, the Johnsons feel more than four people won.
"I'm glad we could help out the school," Michael said. "It was a good run. Everything went smoothly."