When we were kids, the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) would meet to discuss annual events our school would host, and the students were invited to bask in the festivities that our parents vigorously planned. But as students, we overlooked the planning that went into each event. As I got older, I began to think about all of the small details that were put into each event, whether it be a dance, or a run/walk, every social gathering has serious preparation behind it.
Founder and president of Hometown Happenings, Tim Fealy, took notice of this through his work with various organizations in Crown Point and began developing his own fundraising events.
“My friend Jim and I organized a jazz benefit for St. Jude House. My friend Mark and I did an evening of ghost stories also to benefit St. Jude House. I started developing a talent for putting events together.” said Fealy.
In 2005, he started running and attending local runs. “I would look at how they were put together and would think about how I would do it differently” Fealy said. Hometown Happenings was created to be a community oriented organization, and continues to stay that way through Fealy and help from close friends, volunteers and support from local businesses.
“The goal for Hometown Happenings has remained the same since the beginning. We try to create the most enjoyable experience we can for our participants. We support the local businesses who support us in creating the events.” said Fealy.
For every event, Fealy chooses some local cause or project that will benefit from it. “We have collected food for pantries, books for kids in low income areas and baby items for moms in need as well as given away tens of thousands of dollars to local charities,” Fealy said.
When Hometown Happenings was first born, Fealy was unsure of what events to host. After trial and error, he was able to pinpoint which events were the most successful and enjoyable for the community.
“We tried a variety of them. I had a friend, Grant Fitch, who was a master storyteller and I was able to convince him to partner with me on some storytelling events. We tried many versions and they attracted a small crowd. Over time more people were interested in the runs and walks that I was organizing.” said Fealy.
After several years, Fealy began to develop an expertise for creating runs and decided to make it his main focus but still dabbles in other events. “This past spring, I helped my friend Dani Nelson of Bride & Joy Wedding Boutique with her spring trunk show,” Fealy said.
Hometown Happenings hosts many events throughout the year, a few being, The Beast Boot 5K, Kids in Capes, the Public Enemy 5K, Hub City Races, a Halloween run and the Santa Walk & Run. However, Fealy was recently inspired by friend David Novak to kick off Hometown Happenings’ newest event: #WeMoveNWI™.
“At the age of 32, David [Novak] was told by his doctor that he would need to be on high blood pressure medication for the rest of his life. Rather than accept that, David made changes to his diet and started using an elliptical. Eventually, he started walking and then running. In short, David started moving!” said Fealy.
“I find stories like this so incredibly inspiring so I have really made an effort this year at the events to concentrate less on the competition at the events and more on encouraging people to just be there to set their own goals. If we can motivate more people like David, that will be a wonderful goal for us to achieve,” Fealy said.
Fealy hopes these virtual scenarios will help people feel more comfortable participating in community walks/runs.“The first one, “We Move for Pets” took place from July 22nd through July 24th. When you sign up, we send you a race shirt, finishers medal and a bib and you the run your race at your pace and at the time and place you want. There is no event to show up to.”
“Our hope is that if people are intimidated by coming to a running or walking event, that they will feel comfortable with running or walking on their own while still getting the perks that come with participation,” Fealy said.
Through Fealy’s work with Hometown Happenings, he is able to fulfill his passion for organizing events while bringing the community together in an active atmosphere, that not only promotes the importance of community gatherings, but the importance of supporting local organizations and causes.