An upcoming 5K event hosted by Red Mountain High School in Mesa will serve as both a scholarship fundraiser and a tribute to the man who had a profound influence on the lives of students and teachers alike.
Scheduled for March 15, the Steve Rushing 5K Run — the square root of 25K — is sponsored by the school’s track team, team coaches and the booster club members and will raise funds for the W. Steve Rushing Scholarship Fund.
Both the run and fund are named after Steve Rushing, a former math teacher and golf coach — he coached the program from 1993 until 2007 — at Red Mountain. He was actually one of the charter teachers of the school back when it opened in 1988, and worked for Reynolds and Reynolds for 25 years before beginning his career in teaching.
Math teacher Brent Krieg, who also coaches the school’s cross country and track teams, said Rushing was a popular figure on campus, someone who always had a joke on the ready and a smile on his face. He also served as a role model for Krieg and others, someone to look up to and a person who had advice to offer both professional and personal.
“Whenever you were around him, you always felt like you were the center of attention,” he said.
That assessment of Rushing goes well beyond Krieg, as a number of his coworkers and former students shared similar stories in an article Mesa Public Schools wrote in 2013. Cohort Kurtis Saunders said Rushing never had a negative word to say about anyone, while current senior Katelyn Gallagher said he strived to ensure all of his students succeeded.
He was, as Krieg put it, all about the kids and all about Red Mountain.
“I knew Steve a long time — in the classroom and on the athletic field. He was a good guy,” Steve Hogen, Mesa Public School District athletic director said in the article. “Steve got it. He always took care of business and related so well to kids. He could speak in terms that kids could understand, whether it was math or golf. His girls golf team always performed well and won several regional championships.”
Rushing was 62 years old and two months away from the end of his final year as a teacher when he died his sleep in March 2013. To honor his legacy, the school started the scholarship fund in his name to give one graduating senior a $2,500 scholarship. The scholarship is rewarded to students who have a passion for what their educational goals in order to, as Rushing put it, “shine on.”
The run will cover a chunk of the Red Mountain campus and even include a route right by Rushing’s old classroom as a way to memorialize the departed and beloved educator.
“We just felt that was the best way to honor him, to keep it at Red Mountain,” Krieg said.
The inaugural Steve Rushing 5K Run is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. at the high school, which is located at 7301 E. Brown Road. The cost to participate is $25 in advance and $35 the day of.
To register, or for more information, visit www.mpsaz.org/rmhs/athletics/programs/track/rushing-5k-racewalk/.
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