As I continue to wait for a reply from the athletic supporters to my question about seeking private donations for the new gym to relieve the public debt burden, I pass along this Lincoln (NE) Journal Star story about a sixty-something Nebraska couple raising money for a new sports facility. Chuck and Sharon Moore of Fairbury, Nebraska (population 4262), have spent the last three years raising donations for a new 1500-seat football/track stadium for the local high school. So far they've raised over $500,000 from 500 donors. They need $1.5 million to complete the project. The article makes no mention of turning to the school district or the city or any other source of public dollars, nor does it sound like the Moores are worried that they have to hurry to finish the project:
Like her husband, Sharon Moore knows how to stick with something long term. She’s been a bus driver for Fairbury Public Schools for 32 years. She’s taken that same persistent, hard-working attitude into the stadium project, which she hopes will be completed for the 2008-09 school year.
“Someone asked me, ‘What if you only get $350,000?’ and I said that we’ll keeping working until we get it done,’’ she said. “It’s a slow process, but we’ll get there. Our goal is to have one of the most impressive football and track facilities in this area.’"
Maybe Madison's athletic supporters could take a lesson from the Moores. Instead of seeking instant gratification, playing marketing games by trying to capitalize on the buzz around our successful boys basketball team, and fostering a false sense of urgency, the gym backers could do the patient hard work of a long-term fundraising campaign. Such a project would avoid the hard feelings of an election battle and maybe even promote community spirit as people voluntarily join together in a cause they believe in.
(Maybe their first donor could be a Ralph Kappenman, 1974 MHS graduate, now living in Hutchinson, Kansas, who writes a letter to the editor in Thursday's MDL. Kappenman sends his congratulations for our initiative to build a new gym. "You certainly have my support. Go Bulldogs!" While he doesn't say so in his letter, I'm sure my fellow MHS alumnus will follow up his declaration of support with a pledge to send $120 a year every year for the next 25 years to help pay for the gym, just to match the contribution this resident taxpayer will be required to make if the ballot measure passes.)