State Representative Jarom Wagoner turned $500 into $1,000 last year during the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health’s Steps for Schools program, and he’s got plans for getting more funds to a local elementary school this year.

Wagoner received $500 for Skyway Elementary School in Caldwell for averaging 10,000 steps a day during the Steps for Schools walking challenge, but that was only the beginning. He wanted to make a bigger impact for the school in Caldwell, where he lives and used to work as a city planner.

Rep. Jarom Wagoner

Wagoner set a personal goal of 20,000 steps a day. He took pledges from community members, ranging from $5 to $50, to add to the $500 total. The pressure was on – Wagoner would pick up the tab if he failed to reach his 20,000-step goal.

When February ended, Wagoner met his goal and Skyway Elementary had an additional $500 on top of the original money. It was a lesson in how to leverage funds to make a bigger impact.

“It was a fun deal,” Wagoner said. “I reached out to a lot of friends who have kids who go to the school and we were able to raise more money.”

This year, Wagoner has designated Sacajawea Elementary Schools as his Steps for Schools beneficiary. And again, it’s all about leveraging more dollars to benefit his community.

Wagoner set a goal for he and the Sacajewa office staff to walk 500,000 steps over the final 10 days of February. Like last year, he is seeking pledges to have the community support the school. He made the first pledge of $50.

Sacajawea Elementary School in Caldwell.

Sacajawea Elementary Principal Paul Webster is happy to be involved and help out.

“We’ll use the funds for fitness equipment like balls, cones, goals and other needs,” he said. “Our office staff is on board, though I don’t think they understand the magnitude of what they signed up for.”

Each office member will need to average about 8,000 steps a day over the final 10 days of the month to meet the goal. If the group falls short, Wagoner has agreed to pay for the pledges.

Wagoner already has met the Steps for Schools goal of 290,000 steps, earning $500 for the school. This year, the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health offered participating legislators and elected officials the chance to earn additional money for their school by attending an interactive session or two with national community health expert Mark Fenton.

Wagoner earned an additional $500 for attending both sessions, which included a walk audit. Participants get to look at roads, sidewalks and crosswalks through the lens of different types of people — young, old, disabled. The experience was eye-opening for many, including Wagoner.

“I’ve been through walk audits before with different companies and programs as the senior planner for Caldwell, and this was by far my favorite one,” Wagoner said. “I thought Mark was extremely informative. That it’s a very unique group, and when you have a group of legislators and you’re able to keep them all engaged, entertained and involved, you have to have a pretty dynamic personality.”

As a result of Wagoner’s participation, Sacajawea Elementary School is receiving at least $1,000 from the Steps for Schools walking challenge.

“This will help our schoolwide plan of making recess more active and positive for our students,” Webster said.