Goshen College professor of communication, Jason Samuel, knew he wanted to raise money to help The Window, but how to come up with a fundraiser that would be safe during a pandemic was the $20,000-dollar question.
Duos from Indiana and Michigan gathered despite the winter elements, Jan. 9 for an epic disc golf competition. Forty Three teams competed in the Maple City Ice Bowl to raise money for a local food bank in Goshen, The Window.
Samuel came up with the idea to help community members facing food insecurity.
His original goal was to raise $2,000. Instead, the event exceeded expectations and raised nearly $20,000.
Samuel was challenged to find a way to safely raise the money.
“Because only two people are playing at once and the sport is played outside in a very open environment, I thought it would be easy to incorporate social distancing and safety measures,” he said.
He had no idea when he started that this event would be so successful.
“I planned to just have some friends play and raise like $300 for The Window, and then it ballooned into this huge thing, with 84 people involved,” said Samuel.
He then registered his event with Ice Bowl, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to
combating food insecurity with disc golf fundraisers.
The Window is a non-profit, faith-based organization that seeks to provide services to meet the essential needs of anyone with limited incomes. During the time of the coronavirus, the need for food services has been greatly magnified.
The work done at The Window is near and dear to Samuel’s heart. As a child he faced
problems with food insecurity.
“My family got public assistance when I was younger and I remember people and friends of the family bringing us food on Saturday mornings,” Samuel recalled. “I got free lunch as a kid, so I know what that feels like from a child’s perspective and I hate that feeling for anyone.”
Ed Swartley director of The Window, said that the number of people being served by The Window has more than doubled since the beginning of the pandemic.
“It is awesome when the Goshen community comes together to help a non-profit, especially during this time,” Swartley said.
“The biggest challenge of the pandemic was to change how we serve, but we are still able to keep programs running such as The Pantry and Meals on Wheels,” he said. “Having a group of people come together to raise so much money means a lot. It really goes a long way.”
Mayor Jeremy Stutsman played in the tournament and had an instrumental part in making the fundraiser a success.
“I have known Jason Samuel for many years,” Stutsman said. “He was the one who introduced me to disc golf. When I was asked to play, I was excited to dust off my discs and excited to know Samuel was raising money for the Window.”
Stutsman showed his support for Samuel’s event by drawing more awareness to it.
“I decided to put together an email and challenge others to write checks to the Window in
Samuel’s name,” Stutsman said. “I started receiving responses immediately.”
Allan Kauffman, former mayor of Goshen, helped share Stutsman’s challenge. Together they raised roughly $17,000, on top of the money Samuel also raised.
At the event, Stutsman presented Samuel with the checks, and the key to the city of Goshen.
“I had a great time that day enjoying the outdoors, hanging out with friends… and meeting new people,” Stutsman said. “I was so overwhelmed at the support both Samuel and The Window have in this community and can’t wait to join again next year.”
Plans are already being made for next year’s fundraiser.
“We are so happy with the success of this event and we are excited to do this again next year,” Samuel said.