Eagles On Track is rounding its first bend, having raised nearly a third of the $300,000 needed to build a new track at Dryden High School.
In-kind contributions from Wildwood Contracting and B&M Delivery powered a $35,000 lunge out of the campaign’s starting block and between design assistance from the City of Dryden Public Works and a drainage commitment from the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board, construction costs may be reduced by up to $50,000.
The plan would see the existing track ripped out and drained, then paving and rubber spray would form a professional-class track that should last for 20 years.
“It’s a one-time expenditure that’s going to provide free, outside athletics for a generation of kids,” said Mike Wood, who is leading the fundraising effort in the local business community and the school’s alumni while he applies for $1 million in government grants. “We’ve just started the campaign asking for cash donations. The business community has stepped up in a way we never expected.”
Wood was ranked 14th in the world last year and the para-athlete has been selected to represent Canada at the World Marathon Cup in London on April 21, 2013 — one of the world’s five major marathons. He initiated a track and field program at Dryden High that’s 68 members strong and sent 20 students to OFSAA in 2012.
Among the youth who participate, he sees a self-reliance that is different from traditional team sports and an ethic of independent exploration to push themselves to their limits.
“What’s good about track and field is, it’s an individual sport that‘s good for kids but it’s also a team sport,” he explained. “It costs next to nothing. There’s no team politics involved in it, period. Everyone’s involved, competing against everyone else and there’s no bench in track and field.”
By Jon Thompson