A Zionsville Thanksgiving Tradition Continues
Writer // Janelle Morrison Photography // Courtesy of Boys and Girls Club of Zionsville
This year’s participants of the 2nd Annual ZGravy Chase will have a good reason to help themselves to seconds of their Thanksgiving Day feasts on Thursday, November 22. The run/walk benefitting the Boys and Girls Club of Zionsville will offer two courses, a 2-mile and 4.4-mile loop featuring a scenic course that begins and ends on Boone County’s favorite brick street in downtown Zionsville.
The Boys & Girls Club of Zionsville (BAGCOZ) helps area youth develop the skills, fitness and character they need to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens.
Zionsville is unique in that it has two Boys & Girls Clubs to serve its growing community. In the past six years, attendance at the two clubs in Zionsville has gone from servicing 80 to 350 kids per day at both local Clubs, Club East on Mulberry Street and Club West on County Road 700 East. Significant funds are needed to sustain daily club operations. Proceeds from the race will go directly to serve the youth in our community. In addition to the registration fees, sponsorships and personal donations are a vital part of the club’s ability to operate and provide high-quality programs and activities for school-age children and teens.
The annual ZGravy Chase was developed by some of BAGCOZ’s board members and Zionsville residents as not only a family-friendly event but to become another fundraising vehicle to help offset the costs that the two clubs absorb in order to keep membership rates affordable for all families.
Katie O. Reasoner, resource development director at BAGCOZ, shared the cost per child for a family versus the cost per child for the club on an annual basis.
“The fees that parents/guardians pay do not cover the cost. The fees don’t even come close to covering the club’s costs. A member pays $150, per child, for membership for the entire year,” Reasoner said. “If you break that down, it [the cost] is about $0.22 per hour. It costs BAGCOZ close to $450 per child per year.”
Zionsville resident and BAGCOZ Board President Rob Schein shared how the idea for the run/walk turned into a remarkably successful fundraiser after its debut.
“We had been talking about bringing an annual fundraising event here, similar to the run/walk in Broad Ripple on Thanksgiving morning, and we finally bit the bullet a couple of years ago and began the planning for the first ZGravy Chase,” Schein said. “We got Tim [Fretz], Rich [Milliner], Brad [Leonard] and my brother Cary [Schein] along with some other board members involved, and we made it happen last year.”
The organizers were initially told that they would be lucky to get 50-100 runners and were advised to change the date.
“Rich, Cary, Brad, John Quigley and I said we think we can blow that [projection] away,” Schein recalled. “At the end of last October, we were hovering at around 200 registrants, and then it just took off. We were right at 1,600 registrants last year, and we are hoping to double that this year.”
BAGCOZ board member and Zionsville resident Rich Milliner spoke about the board’s dedication to providing support for and advocating for the club’s impressive menu of programming and activities for children.
“I think it is important to support the clubs and the programs that provide options for the families and kids in our community,” Milliner expressed. “Many families and kids need the types of programming that we offer, and our board and committees are committed to providing the best programming for our kids as possible.”
In addition to providing a myriad of programs geared toward physical health and nutrition, BAGCOZ offers life skills programs for kids, some specifically designed for teenagers, such as the UPS Road Code program. This is a free national program that educates teens on safe driving techniques and the hazards of distracted driving.
“The activities and programs that we have focus on getting up and being active and healthy,” stated Tim Fretz, executive director of BAGCOZ. “We have a variety of different programs and activities that really help to show kids how to live a happy and healthy life. Great futures start at the club, and we help teach kids how to be great people. As far as some of the teen programming, we are very fortunate to have a partnership with UPS and the UPS Road Code program. That partnership allows us to teach about distracted driving to the teenagers.”
When asked what the feedback is from parents whose kids have participated in programs such as UPS Road Code, Fretz replied, “It’s been a popular program. We run about 200 kids a year through that program. Some of the parents that have provided feedback after their teenager has completed the program has been, ‘Wow, my kid’s much more attentive behind the wheel now, and we really appreciate that course.’”
Registration is open for the 2nd Annual ZGravy Chase, and sponsorships are still available and are necessary to continue to fund BAGCOZ’s programs and ability to offer low-cost memberships.
The lead sponsor for this year’s event is Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Additional sponsorship is provided by Kite Harris Property Group, Edwards Realty Group, Ernst & Young, Godby Heating, Plumbing & Electrical, Milliner & Associates and Fretz Accounting Services, Inc.