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An ambitious fundraising campaign hopes to provide students at Dryden High School with a rubberized track running surface.
The current 400-metre gravel track that rings the DHS football field suffers from poor drainage and an inconsistent surface.
Running coach Mike Wood says he’s made an agreement with the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board (KPDSB) that if they will take steps to fix the track’s drainage issues, he will lead the charge to raise approximately $300,000 to pave and rubberize the track surface.
The former city councillor says he’s confident that the bulk of the funding can be raised in a combination of federal, provincial and industry grants. He adds that there are businesses, individuals and DHS alumni who have expressed an interest in making a charitable donation.
Dependent on funding Wood says he hopes construction can move ahead this summer. The rubberized track will have a useful lifespan of 20 years.
His community-based track and field club, Dryden Athletics, is registered with the province to write charitable donation receipts. Between the non-profit organization and the school board, Wood says there are many avenues for funding that they may pursue.
Track and field’s resurgence in the community proceeded along an interesting path.
“Track and field was one of the first organized sports at DHS in the ‘40s and ‘50s,” says Wood. “It was really popular because it’s cheap, requires next to no equipment and it’s very inclusive. People can pick what they want to do — run, jump, or throw.”
Wood says the track and field program withered sometime in the late 1970s as there was no one with the background to run the program.
An internationally-ranked para-athlete, Wood resurrected the program in 2009, gathering both elementary and high school students for regional track meets and a cross-country running club. In the years since the sport has staged an impressive comeback in the community, boasting some of the largest participation of any school sports program.
“We just had our signup for the 2013 track season and we have 54 people signed up so far,” he said. “It’s grown every year. We have guys and girls from every grade between 7 and 12 on the same team. We’ve sent a number of teams and individuals to OFSAA and even won the Manitoba high school boys’ cross country championships last year.”
With his small army of fundraisers, Wood says the campaign has officially begun. Mail in donations can be addressed to the Eagles On Track Campaign, care of Dryden High School, 79 Casimir Ave., P8N 2H4
“In particular, we’re hoping that alumni who know the value and the importance of having these free activities might be interested in participating,” said Wood.
For more information you can contact Mike Wood at email@example.com or call 221-8868.
By Chris Marchand