Two athletes from Humboldt are receiving community support.
A local committee called Rush for Gold — Team Theisen, Team Rush, has been formed to support Brianne Theisen and Lyndon Rush, Olympic athletes originally from Humboldt.
The group decided to raise funds for Rush last fall, after committee member Michelle Bankowski learned about the lack of funding for Olympic athletes.
The only time athletes receive any fame or fortune is during the Olympics.
“These athletes are doing it for love of the sport,” said David Doepker of the Rush for Gold committee.
Since the Olympic athletes have a struggle finding financial support, a group of concerned Humboldt citizens took matters into their own hands and created Rush for Gold.
“Our committee’s mandate is...to create some awareness in the community, the region and provincially that we have these two amazing athletes that are competing internationally and these two are out there proudly telling the world that they are from Humboldt,” said Bankowski.
She explained they feel at a grassroots level that the community wants to help out the athletes and support them during their journey.
Another reason the committee was formed was to give these athletes some recognition for their hard work and accomplishments.
“We want Lyndon and Brianne to know how proud we are of them,” said Bankowski. “We want to show our support before they hit the podium. “
Bankowski said she didn’t know Rush was competing in the Olympics until the Games were on.
“I just found it disappointing during the last Olympics that I wasn’t even aware Lyndon was participating until I watched television,” said Bankowski. “So it was about that time I said to myself, you know, next time our city has to do better... This time around we really wanted to make sure the world, our province and our city knew that we had an Olympian who came from Humboldt.”
At first, Rush was the only Olympic athlete from Humboldt, but recently the committee learned about Theisen’s journey to the Olympics and decided to include her in their efforts.
“Brianne is either training or she is at home resting to train,” said Doepker. “There is no time to hold down a job.”
The committee is coming up with unique fundraising ideas.
“What we are planning on doing is having a 24-hour run around Humboldt,” said Andy McAnally, another committee member.
McAnally, who runs marathons as a hobby, will be running a 24 hour marathon around Humboldt from the morning of September 20 to the morning of September 21.
“We are going to get people to guess how far I can cover in 24 hours, to the nearest kilometre,” said McAnally. “We are going to get people to be pledging and donating money towards this event.”
There will also be prizes for people who pledge $250 or more. Pledges can be made on their website, www.rushforgold.ca, or at either Diamonds of Detroit or Causeway Natural Health.
“We wanted to come up with something innovative and different to catch people’s attention,” said Bankowski. “I know when I shared with Lyndon that Andy was going to run non-stop for 24 hours he didn’t believe that was possible. Andy tells us it is, so we’ll have to check it out.”
McAnally has already been training for this run and others this summer. He did his first marathon of the season in May and will been doing a 15-mile run through the Rockies in August.
Running around Humboldt for 24 hours, though, will be challenge, he feels.
“It is kind of what I do, but this is going to be totally different because... it is going to be around a short loop, which is psychologically daunting,” McAnally explained. “Also, most of it is going to be on pavement and grid road, which is again, totally different.”
Most of the marathons he runs are trail runs, which are easier on the joints.
During McAnally’s run, the committee hopes Theisen and Rush can visit some schools in the area to talk about their experiences.
“Both Lyndon and Brianne take inspiring youth very seriously and they are really looking forward to visiting some of the schools and making presentations,” said Bankowski. “We’d like to let the general public know we are looking for their support and hoping to raise some significant funds.”
After McAnally finishes his run on September 21, the committee will be holding an evening gala, with Theisen and Rush as the keynote speakers.
“The gala will be held in the evening to celebrate the run and the success of the initial start of this fundraising,” said Bankowski.
Both Theisen and Rush are reportedly excited to see such huge support from their home community.
“They wouldn’t miss this opportunity to come out and be with the Humboldt people for anything,” said Bankowski.
Although the event is coming together, the Rush for Gold committee is still looking for more support in the form of sponsorships. The Bella Vista Inn will be a major sponsor for the gala, but they still need more help.
“Response for this has been great,” said Bankowski. “The few people who we have told what we are doing, it has been unbelievable how supportive they are.”