The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 17, 2012

NCAA initiative raises funds for Joplin

The Joplin Globe

JOPLIN, Mo. — NCAA Division II cross country programs across the country raised a total of $28,500 this year for tornado relief in Joplin.

The teams held various fundraisers — run-a-thons, T-shirt sales, yard work, hosting road races — throughout the year.

A check presentation was made during Saturday night’s championship awards banquet. Two-thirds of the amount will be given to the Joplin R-8 school district, and one-third is going to the Missouri Southern tornado relief fund.

At the December 2011 national convention of the U.S. track and cross country coaches, a group headed by D-2 chairman Aaron Russell of Lock Haven wanted to help, and the “Joplin Initiative” was born.

“Many of us coaches have visited Joplin on a number of occasions,” Russell said in a press release. “To watch the devastation on the news back in May 2011 really made me feel as though a member of my family had been in the middle of it all.

“When things really hit home for a lot of us, however, was at the 2011 Division II track and field championships when we all got to talk with Patty (Vavra) and Tom (Rutledge, MSSU coaches) and hear first-hand accounts of what they, their communities and the Missouri Southern teams had endured.

“At the convention in December, Patty and I were discussing how things have progressed in Joplin. It really struck me that with Joplin hosting the 2012 cross country championships, an amazing opportunity presented itself. Division II emphasizes (community service) and what better way to show that than the Joplin Initiative.”