In 1978, when I took up running as a serious activity and the year I entered my first race, the Fort Myers Track Club had just been founded. Having been a member ever since, as well as having spent some time on the board of directors a number of years ago, I remain impressed with this club. Not only does it organize and manage running events at the highest level of professionalism, the work it does results in many dollars being raised for charitable organizations.
Each year the FMTC conducts more than two-dozen races of various distances (5K, 4-miles, 10K and 13.1-mile half-marathon) and another half-dozen 2-mile summer fun runs, with all work performed by volunteers. But what’s even more significant is that the funds it generates are put back into the community, resulting in more than $500,000 going to the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida and pediatric centers, college scholarships and other important causes. Ironically, most of this fundraising takes place at events that are not the track club’s. Instead, the club is hired by nonprofit organizations to manage races as fundraisers. Depending on a number of factors, FMTC sometimes donates all or part of the fee back to the organization. (A cautionary note to nonprofits: The fact that there are charity races, walks and bike events almost every weekend in our area should persuade you from considering adding yet another similar event to the calendar.)
If you enjoy the quality races conducted d by FMTC and want to ensure they continue, volunteer for one or another. Consider making a personal commitment to work one race for each two or three you run. The club’s core volunteers need as much support as they can get. You can find opportunities by visiting the FMTC website.
Speaking of a top-notch, well-established organization that serves our community by both providing services and raising funds, here’s another example: the 16th annual Rotary Eggs & Ears 5K to benefit the Do the Right Thing Recognition Program takes place Saturday, March 30. The Fort Myers-Sunrise Rotary, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and FMTC team up to ensure a quality event that’s run on the beautiful, tree-lined streets of Gateway. The kids will love it for the 1-mile fun-run and ancillary activities. Pre-race sign-up and packet pick-up is from 2-6 p.m. Friday, March 29, in the Community Room of Gulf Coast Medical Center on the corner of Daniels and Metro parkways. See you there or Saturday.
Another class-act, Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club, recently conducted its Royal Palm Ride and the reviews are glowing. The new routes, guided 15-mile ride, and excellent post-ride fare were a big hit. Almost 50 volunteers worked hard to make this annual event better than ever. Already looking forward to next year.
If you haven’t already done so, time’s running out to pipe in on Lee County’s Sustainability Plan before public input is incorporated into a final draft. One aspect of the plan that’s been mentioned numerous times in this column and is the primary concern of BikeWalkLee is Complete Streets. But besides transportation options, the plan includes many more elements, including our community’s economy, environment, and social fabric, among others. At its recent “live” public input workshop, more than twice the number of people expected to attend showed up and stayed to offer their ideas and preferences. County staff was very happy with the enthusiasm and energy and hopes there’s the same level of interest and feedback with the electronic public input via the interactive survey. Besides making choices and determining priorities, there’s opportunity to include any suggestions or ideas you may have about the future of our community. You can learn about the effort by going to the Sustainability Office’s home page.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.
— Dan Moser is a league cycling and CyclingSavvy instructor/ trainer and programs director for the Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 334- 6417.