Gray clouds blanketed the skies and rain drops eventually would fall, but neither could wipe the smiles off the faces of those from Field High School last Tuesday when the Falcons hosted their first track meet in 10 years.
A school that once was home to one of the premier tracks in the area had watched its all-weather surface deteriorate to the point that it was no longer safe for competition.
That needed to change.
However, amidst a financial climate that has included four consecutive failed levies and continued cutbacks, the big question arose: How?
It was a question that was first presented to newly hired athletic director Matt Furino in 2008 by then-Superintendent David Brobeck.
“He asked me what my plans were to revive the track,” Furino said, recalling a conversation he had with Brobeck shortly after being named the school’s AD. “I think we both realized that we needed to come up with a plan.”
That plan would hatch the Big Red Fund, an eight-person committee with a fundraising vision that by the end of its quest would accomplish much more than a new track for the school.
The track became a reality, but by simply going after the project with energized purpose, the committee set an example for its student-athletes that no dream was too big.
Not even one that would carry a price tag upward of $170,000.
That was the sticker price Field’s new track would carry after the committee gained a pulse on the project through research, inquiries and bids.
Instead of finding the reasons to allow the large and costly project to drift to the background, the Big Red Fund began finding every reason to go after it.
The Big Red Fund, which is comprised of Furino and his wife Rita, along with Bernadette Moore, Anjenette Lowden, Keith Stayer, Terry Kettering, Jill Richards and Dan Rafferty, set a window of about four years to raise the necessary funds for the construction of the new track.
Through donations and fundraisers like the school’s annual VanDevere Thrive and Drive car raffle, Brimfest 5K road race, car washes and Big Red Dinner, the group was able to close that window in just two remarkably short years.
“We knew that we were chasing a big number, but the community here is so awesome that we knew we could get to it,” said Furino, whose committee has also helped offset nearly $15,000 in pay-to-play costs for student-athletes over the last two years. “It feels good to know you have support.”
Furino said he was not surprised by the community’s outpouring of generosity.
“Ever since I have been at Field, with every fundraiser we have ever asked for, the community has always come through.”
The support showed that the school and the community, using the Big Red Fund as its vehicle, was willing to invest in its youth.
“With all of our levy woes, just like all schools are up against right now, I think we showed the kids that everybody really does care for them and wants the best for them,” Furino said. “And that we are willing to do whatever it takes for them to have the best.”
Last Tuesday, rain may have begun to fall from those dark clouds, but there was going to be no raining on the Falcons’ parade.
With the community standing behind them, they witnessed what could be accomplished when no dream is considered too big and how the actions it takes to get to the finish line can create moments that are remembered forever.