OKC Memorial Marathon: 'Isaac Project' meant to spread kindness

Stroud student Erin Riley and teacher Saundra Arnold will spread the word during Sunday's half-marathon.
by Ryan Aber Published: April 27, 2012

It didn't take long for Erin Riley to feel at home at Stroud after transferring in the final weeks of last year.

“I love it,” the 14-year-old said. “Everybody's so nice here. I didn't know how nice people could be until I came here.”

Riley will run in the half marathon Sunday at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, wearing a shirt for the Isaac Project.

Soon after Riley transferred to Stroud, she started seeing classmates with “Isaac Project” T-shirts.

“I didn't know if it was a band or what,” Riley said.

She asked her English teacher about the shirts, and the teacher directed her to Saundra Arnold.

Riley didn't have Arnold, a vocal teacher at the school, for class but the two quickly found a bond.

Arnold's 7-year-old son, Isaac, died from complications of the flu last year.

After Isaac's death, Arnold was talking with a friend and they decided to do something to keep Isaac's memory alive.

“He was such a friendly kid,” Arnold said. “Everybody he met, he would talk to them.

“She felt like that's something that should be shared.”

Arnold came up with the Isaac Project.

She wrote a children's book, with the themes of kindness, friendship and acceptance and an anti-bullying message.

Arnold planned on self-publishing the book before Tate Publishing picked it up.

Once published, Arnold's goal is to put the book in every elementary school library in the state.

Each shirt sold makes it possible for the book to be placed in one more school.

“I've always wanted to write a children's book, and bullying is one of the things I wanted to address,” she said. “I was always afraid my children would go through something like that.”

by Ryan Aber
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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