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Running passion spreads
Four Sam Vaughn Elementary teachers who enjoy running have aspired their students to pick up the healthy activity with the campus' Giants on the Run Club.

Teachers Karen Lozano, Kristine Dobbs, Lori Aikins and Kristine Adamakis started the club in mid September with the goal of getting kids to run a cumulative of 100 miles by the end of May. The effort started out with about 200 students running quarter-mile laps during the two morning recesses. Approximately 40 students have continued running.

At Friday's Giants Jamboree assembly, the school honored fourth-grader Marissa Prestia for being the first students to achieve her 100-mile target.

Marissa picked up her passion and enthusiasm from her father, Richard Prestia of Ceres, who started running to get in better shape. At 350 pounds, Richard thought he needed to do something for better health and began walking and then joined the Shadow Chase Running Club. He started running in October after dropping 140 pounds, then built up his endurance to join the Modesto Marathon in March. Richard has also run in the San Francisco Marathon, and is shooting for the American River 50-mile run.

Marissa's brother, kindergarten brother Marcus Prestia, is also a member of the club and is up to 70 miles.

Their mother, Tanisha Prestia, helps the campus club by stamping the students' running logs.

The club, said Dobbs, was the teachers way to get the kids in shape and allow them to set long-term goals.

"We're all runners here ourselves and we feel good," said Dobbs. "We're encouraging them to find something that makes them feel good."

For every 10 miles the students run they earn a wristband.

Teachers walk - or run - the talk. Lozano herself is in training to run a 100-mile race. She already completed one in 27 hours.