When some 2,200 athletes hit the water Sunday morning for the seventh Ford Ironman Coeur d’Alene, they will be helped along the way by an even greater number of volunteers, many of them kids.
Teenagers from high school cross-country teams will run alongside cyclists as they cruise through aid stations, passing them food and water. Athletes will pick up goodie bags stuffed assembly-line style by teenagers with Christian Youth Theater/Spokane and Coeur d’Alene Crush Softball. Kids will even provide entertainment, singing the national anthem at pre- and post-race events.
For their hard work, the young people’s organizations and many others will receive grants from the Ironman Community Fund, which will donate $40,000 to groups in the region this year, said race director Andy Emberton. Dozens of organizations will receive grants of around $500 from the fund.
“I literally have a waiting list, probably 15 deep, of nonprofits that want to get in there,” said Michelle Haustein, volunteer director for the race. Money goes into the Community Fund essentially through late registrations for the race, Emberton said. Early sign-ups for the race cost $550. People who don’t register by the deadline still have an opportunity to compete, but at a higher price – $1,300. The $750 difference goes into the Community Fund, he said.
The $500 that Christian Youth Theater will receive by participating “helps us pay fees for royalties. It allows us to do better shows,” said Laura Little, executive director of the organization. This year, the money will go toward the $3,500 fee for “School House Rock,” which the group will produce in November, she said.
Earlier this week, rows of teenagers worked a long line of tables, stuffing bags with brochures, water bottles and other items for athletes.
The teens laughed and jostled one another as they worked, singing songs from their shows.
“It’s a good way to build some friendships, but it also helps our organization,” said 15-year-old Karly Rasmussen, who will be a sophomore at Central Valley High School in the fall. “It’s also something fun to do for the community.”