The Journal Gazette
Thursday, April 09, 2020 1:00 am

Grace athletes help raise $12,070 for COVID-19 aid

AUBREE REICHEL | For The Journal Gazette

The Grace men's soccer team's COVID-19 relief fundraiser ended Wednesday, having raised just over $12,000 to be split between domestic and international organizations.

The fundraiser began with the team running continuously for 48 hours and evolved into a week-long event beyond the soccer program.

“It's honestly unbelievable,” junior forward Marcelo Talamas said in a phone interview. “The support the community has shown is amazing. We had the goal of $10,000, but we thought it was very optimistic. The fact that the community was willing to help us that much in a short period of time really impressed me and the team.

“The support is what kept us pushing harder. That's why we increased our objective and now we're very, very proud and satisfied with the results.”

The GoFundMe campaign raised $12,070 over seven days.

The funds will be split between the Community Foundation of Elkhart County Response Fund, the Warsaw Salvation Army, IMA World Health and individual families in the area.

Other sports teams got involved, taking 20-minute time slots and promoting the fundraiser on social media.

“I think there is a good community at Grace, for sure,” head coach Arron Patrick said. “Of all the places I've worked at, it's the best community. Everyone seems happy to be there. Now that we've actually pitched in together, cross country helped us close it out and some other sports, it's really going to tie the sports teams together.

“(In other places), the basketball coach is after what he needs to be successful, the soccer coaches are after what they need to be successful. It's never, 'What can we do together to ensure that we're all going to be successful in the long run?'”

After the soccer team's initial 20-minute time slots for 48 hours, players also used Instagram Live to take challenges from viewers in exchange for donations.

“I had to do a 90-minute run and it was 'Simon Says,'” sophomore goalkeeper Colton Wottring said. “People had a template, ranging from a $5 donation up to $100. The donor could choose the task or challenge like 'bark like a dog at somebody' or 'jump in Winona Lake and swim the length of the canal.' That was for a full 90 minutes and we were able to raise $1,080 in that one run.

“We had people donate big chunks but even the small $5 or $10, that's something that we could donate to a family that needed canned goods for a day or something like that.”

The highlight for Patrick, however, was the $250 brought in over the 9 minutes, 15 seconds it took his 5-year-old son to run a mile to help with the effort.

“My little boy came into my room and said, 'Daddy, I really want to run. I want to help people, too, and want to raise money, too,'” Patrick said. “After I almost started crying with the proud-dad moment, one of my players messaged me and said I'll give Ollie $10 if he runs a mile.

“I was proud of that because he's a little guy. He had a side cramp after like 20 yards and he was just toughing it out. I asked 'How do you feel?' and he said, 'Great, I just raised money for people who need it.'

“(These players are) impacting my little kid's life. He wants to be like them not only because they're great soccer players but because they're great people.”

The fundraiser remains open for potential donors at

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