ELKHART — Students at Concord High School have many things they could do over a weekend: club events, sports, homework, hanging out with friends and family. Or, if they can find the time, just taking a break.
Yet many of them chose to spend their Saturday making pottery for a good cause.
That cause is to help the sick children at Riley Hospital for Children.
Now in its 21st year, Concord's 24-hour Potters Marathon had students turning clay into dough from 5 a.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Sunday, hoping to raise more than $40,000, as they have for the past three years.
"What we do is, we just make pottery for 24 hours," said senior Tyler Klase. "We make the best pottery we can, and then we'll have a fundraiser a little bit before Christmas, where we sell the pottery to make as much money as possible for Riley."
The students don't stop at selling what they make. For the last few weeks, they have been asking community members to pledge money to the cause.
"And at the end of the year, we have a big old banquet where we have a big check printed out, and we present it to a Riley representative," junior Jacob Streeter said.
Both Streeter and Klase have participated in Potters Marathon throughout their time in high school and were wearing brown shirts this weekend, signaling to newcomers in red shirts that assistance is available.
"We teach them how to go from this big dot of clay to a massive pot," Klase said.
According to the high school, more than 100 students were expected to participate in the marathon this weekend. Some do four-hour shifts, while others, depending on grade level and pottery experience, are allowed to stay for the entire 24 hours.
It's a good time, but in the end, it's all about the children, Streeter and Klase said.
"It's an incredible experience to be part of something that, close-up, looks like a small event, but in reality, we are able to raise over $400,000 in the last 20 years," Klase said.
Streeter said he has been urging other students to participate. Being a part of the marathon and everything around it is life-changing, he said. That's not because of the pottery itself, but because the students learn about the struggles of children at Riley.
"I think it instills a sense of selflessness that you can't get anywhere else," he said.
The Potters Marathon was created in 1999 by art teacher Bob Bieber, who got the inspiration for the duration of the event after sitting at a stoplight and looking at a Marathon gas station. The 10 students participating that year made 140 pieces and raised $2,138. Bieber continues to run the marathon.
Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus