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Funds for track upgrade gathered in a hurry

March 03, 2006|by DAN KAUFFMAN

HAGERSTOWN

When it came to upgrading the Mike Callas Stadium complex at North Hagerstown High School to USA Track & Field standards, the Tri-State track community got it done in fitting fashion with a rousing sprint to the finish line.

It took three weeks, including a frantic final seven days, for Cumberland Valley Athletic Club President Mike Spinnler to raise the $50,000 required by the Callas Stadium committee by the March 1 deadline. Dozens of individuals and a handful of businesses contributed to Spinnler's effort to build a complex capable of hosting high school, college or world-class events.

"You knew the track and field community, for sure, would rally around it, but it expanded far beyond that," Spinnler said. "It's just a bunch of community-minded people who saw this as a positive thing. We really want to make this venue a full-service venue so we can have any type of meet here. It's tough to do with an existing facility, but easier to do when building one from ground up."

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Almost half of the money - $24,500 - was raised in the final week as word of the effort spread.

"We're thrilled Mike and the Cumberland Valley Athletic Club raised the money," said John Williamson, head of the Callas Stadium committee. "We're going to the architect and he's going to be redesigning the stadium to USATF specifications. ... Our hats go off to whole track and field community for what they were able to do."

Spinnler's initial plan was to get 100 pledges of $500, a plan that mostly held true to form.

"It's like a long-distance race, but we felt if we could break it down into pieces, we could do it," Spinnler said. "We had some people who gave a lot more than that, some who gave a little less than that, and we made it."

Spinnler called his effort "a drop in the bucket" compared to the efforts of the Callas Stadium committee, which Williamson said has raised $3.2 million to give North Hagerstown High School a long-awaited outdoor facility.

"I have to tip my hat to the Callas Stadium committee," Spinnler said. "They were very gracious to allow a special-interest group to plead their case. ... They could have said it was too late in the game, but they did not, and I appreciate them for giving us this chance. ... It's a win-win situation for everybody who will benefit from this for years to come."

Spinnler started his fundraising campaign upon finding out that the Callas Stadium committee, needing to limit the costs of the project, planned to build the track to high school standards. The $50,000 will be used to bring the facility up to USATF standards, including a lane for steeplechase races (a fixture of college and world-class meets), areas for field events, such as the javelin and hammer throw, and a second long jump lane.

"It was one of those feel-good type things," Spinnler said. "I wanted people to see the value of this and what it would do for generations to come. People didn't do this for me, they did this for the kids who will benefit for years to come.

"From the human side, I cannot wait to see kids ride their bicycles up to the all-comers track meets on summer nights. That is when my heart is really going to feel good."

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