Cinnamon Glassbrenner was a Minnetonka stay-at-home mom when she first heard about Apex Fun Run. She had left her corporate job a few years earlier; she and her husband were looking for a business they could get involved in that would give her flexibility and let her continue to focus on their two children. They’d looked at another franchise opportunity, but they weren’t sure it was right for them. As luck would have it, an acquaintance of Glassbrenner’s had recently founded a company in Arizona working with schools and PTOs, called Apex Fun Run. Glassbrenner’s family encouraged her to check it out.
What she discovered was a completely new model for school fundraising. How does it work? The Apex team visits a school and gets students involved and excited about raising money for their classrooms by getting sponsors to pledge money for every lap the student runs in the fun run. The run itself takes place at the end of a two-week residency by the Apex athletic team. They hold pep rally-style events, and get kids motivated and excited about the run.
As most moms and dads can attest, school fundraisers are not usually a parent’s favorite way to participate in the school experience. Selling candy or wrapping paper and keeping up with money and paperwork can be a burden for parents who are often working full time and juggling other family commitments. “When my kids started school, I was amazed that the fundraisers were all about selling the same things we sold when I was in school,” Glassbrenner says. “I thought, ‘Really? They haven’t come up with anything new in all this time?’ ” When she and her husband looked more closely at Apex, they thought it might be perfect timing.
The Apex concept is new to Minnesota, but it’s catching on fast. “We started with two schools,” Glassbrenner says. “This fall, we have a waiting list. We have 100 percent of the schools from last year signing up to do the fun run again.” But it isn’t just the popularity of the Apex Fun Run that has her excited about the future of her business. It’s also the effectiveness and integrity of the program. Glassbrenner has deep roots in the Lake Minnetonka area. “There is not a school we go into where I or one of my employees doesn’t know at least one family,” she says. “So I’m accountable for everything we do.”
Part of that accountability is reflected in her staff. She describes the team leaders who come into the schools as professionals, and says that she is proud to work with them. “They all have a real passion for working with children, and the kids can really see that,” she says.
The Apex Fun Run is a completely new model for school fundraising and, based on the popularity Glassbrenner is seeing, a welcome one. Because the Apex team is in the school for two weeks before the fun run, managing every part of the program, all the old challenges of collecting money and keeping up with orders is a thing of the past. Parents and kids are still participants in the success of their school—but especially in the fun parts.