First-time marathoners help Crosstown raise $30,000 for water projects

Cov News - Crosstown WVA group of runners from Crosstown Covenant Church outpaced all others in fundraising for Team World Vision during the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon last Saturday, and one member of the congregation raised more money than any other individual.

The Crosstown team raised at least $30,000. Thirteen of the 15 congregation members finished the race, even though many of them had never done any distance running, and only four had run a marathon, which is 26.2 miles.

Team World Vision involves athletes participating in public events such as marathons or half-marathons. The humanitarian organization views the team as a way of encouraging health among the participants as well as a way to raise funds for projects.

Several Covenant churches in the area, including Faith Covenant Church in Burnsville, and First Covenant Church of St. Paul, had teams, as did Minnehaha Academy. Crosstown member Nathan Johnson led the Minnehaha team, which raised the third-most amount of funds.

Altogether World Vision raised more than $200,000, said Crosstown Pastor John Jacobi.

The Crosstown team actually had 17 members but two were unable to run due to injuries. One of them was Josh Smith, the church’s director of worship arts, who was 290 pounds at 6-foot-4-inches tall when he enlisted. During his training, he lost more than 50 pounds.

Smith told a local news outlet earlier this year that he ran because, “Kids are near and dear to my heart. I can’t imagine a 12- or 13-year-old’s (being) worried about getting abducted on the way to get water. No kid should have to make that decision. I am doing something that’s tough for me, so they don’t have to make those tough decisions.”

Other team members included a woman who was four months pregnant and a woman in her fifties who had never run a marathon.

Crosstown member Karl Palmer, also a first-time marathoner, raised the most of any participant—$5,360. As a result of that accomplishment, he will have lunch with World Vision President Rick Stearns on Oct. 18.

“I never realized there would be an opportunity to meet with Mr. Stearns for being a top fundraiser,” said Palmer. “I was mainly motivated to tell people of the need to provide clean water for people in Africa.”

Palmer far surpassed his personal goal. “I planned to just get to $1,310 so I could focus on training for the marathon. As I continued my training, I continued to tell people about running for clean water. I am very blessed to know many generous people who offered their financial support.”

Jacobi was excited that so many people from his congregation, which has an average attendance of “maybe 200,” chose to participate. “The Holy Spirit challenged people to step outside of their normative life patterns and embark on ‘something great for God.’ ”

Crosstown has sponsored 40 children through Covenant Kids Congo powered by World Vision and would have designated their funds from the marathon to that project, but the charity already had decided that all of the money would go to Zambia water projects.

Jacobi also praised team leaders Sarah and Matt Zamastil. “I had nothing to do with organizing this, which is always great for a pastor,” he said.

The marathon effort benefited the congregation as well, Jacobi said. “It brought out leadership gifts and drew people closer together.”

Copyright © 2013 The Evangelical Covenant Church.