By Debby Woodin
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Two local organizations received donations of more than $10,000 each as a result of the Joplin Memorial Run held in May.
Rebuild Joplin and Bright Futures were presented checks of $10,161 each in a ceremony Monday at City Hall.
Audie Dennis, president of Active Life Style Events Inc., which holds the run, said runners also made direct donations of $1,700 to the nonprofit organizations. Run participants also gave nearly 100 pairs of running shoes that were provided to the Turnaround Ranch for children housed there who wish to take up the sport.
There were 2,300 runners in this year’s event from 28 states, down from more than 2,900 last year.
The event — a half marathon and 5K — started nine years ago with the Festival of the Four States, which later became Boomtown Days. It was named the Boomtown Run and was held in conjunction with the festival. The event was renamed the Joplin Memorial Run in remembrance of the victims of the EF-5 tornado that struck Joplin on May 22, 2011, claiming 161 lives.
A board of directors for Active Life Styles Events decides each year how to donate the proceeds from entry fees, merchandise sales and sponsorships — after expenses — to local nonprofit organizations.
Dennis said it has been rewarding to see the event grow. About 150 participated in the first run.
“I had no idea when we started this 10 years ago it would evolve into something like this today,” Dennis said.
The race theme is “Run, Remember and Rebuild.”
Bright Futures is a project of the Joplin Schools Foundation to help children in need reach graduation by donations from the community of assistance in resolving issues that could be an impediment to staying in school.
Peggy Fuller, with Southwest Missouri Bank and chairwoman of Bright Futures, said it is the second year Bright Futures has been a beneficiary of the run.
“We appreciate it so much,” she said. “We are grateful to those who ran and to the community.”
Jerrod Hogan, with Rebuild Joplin, said the Active Life Styles Events board dedicated its donation to JOMONOLA. Thirty bicycle riders — 20 from Joplin — pedaled from Joplin to New Orleans last month to raise $150,000 to build three homes, one each in Joplin, New Orleans and on the East Coast where Hurricane Sandy hit.
Hogan said that when the riders arrived in New Orleans after the 800-mile ride, “there was a lot of pride but it was bittersweet because we had not met our goal.” The riders had raised $141,000 at the close of the trek.
Dennis said that is why the Active Life Styles Events board decided to make the donation to Rebuild Joplin.
The JOMONOLA riders were recognized by the Joplin City Council at its meeting Monday on behalf of the city. Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean read a proclamation declaring it JOMONOLA Appreciation Day in Joplin.
“We have an amazing community,” she said of the effort.
Hogan told the mayor that there are still 100 people in Joplin who need to replace their homes, 1,000 in New Orleans and thousands in the area hit by Hurricane Sandy, particularly New York and New Jersey. He also thanked the Joplin Memorial Run for enabling the riders to meet their fundraising goal.
Dennis said of the riders, “What they have done is inspiring.”
The JOMONOLA ride from Joplin to New Orleans started June 20. It took 10 days and covered 800 miles.