Running to rebuild the Heartland

BY: JON VANDERFORD

Originally published by 10/11’s Pure Nebraska program

The Lincoln Track Club is a group of people with a passion for running, and for giving back. In the wake of the March flooding, club members knew they had to do something. The hometowns of many club members had been affected. Members decided to put together a run to raise money. “The plan came together in less than 24 hours,” Lincoln Track Club public relations coordinator Jennifer Snyder said. “There were a lot of emails that went on between several people.”

Not only did people in Lincoln make a contribution by taking part in the race. The track club also invited runners from across the country to participate vitually. “We had close to 900 people sign up on-line and it was just about a 50-50 split of people running in Lincoln, and people doing a virtual run,” Snyder said. “There were 26 or 27 states that were represented, and we even had a couple of members of the military that ran or donated so they could do the virtual run that way.”

Each runner paid an entrance fee of $30 dollars. The track club matched that fee. The Lincoln Track Club then decided to give that donation to the “Rebuild the Heartland Community Fund”, which was established by First National Bank of Omaha and the Nebraska Community Foundation. Through the fund, First National Bank matched what the track club raised, and Alec Gorynski with First National says that amounted to a $120,000 dollar donation to the fund.

“The Rebuild the Heartland Fund is focused on the long term recovery and rebuilding of communities impacted by the flood,” Gorynski said. “One of our greatest partners in all of this has been the Nebraska Community Foundation. It is through their structure of having affiliated funds and donor advised funds that we were able to get this fund established within 48 hours of the true devastation of the flood. We were able to prop it up, give it some seed money, and start fundraising. To date, we’ve raised nearly $750,000, and we hope to raise quite a bit more before we start investing those dollars into non-profit organizations later this summer or early fall.”

The plan is to invest the money from the fund in things like housing development and neighborhood revitalization. “It is likely we will go through some sort of application process,” Gorynski said. “Right now we want to take the time to listen and learn from the communities that were impacted by the floods, and hear from them. We want to have them tell us what they need, in order to rebuild and we want to be responsive to those needs.”

While First National Bank carefully considers where the money from the Rebuild the Heartland Fund will go, members of the Lincoln Track Club can feel good knowing they got the most out of their money by putting it in a fund that matched what they were able to raise.

“I would say this would not have been possible if people would not have been willing to jump at the idea, and it just goes to show that people are very giving. You just have to give them an avenue to give,” Snyder said. “I think the good spirit in people came out.”