On your mark, get set, dash!
The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ held its first-annual Donaldson Dash on Saturday, August 27, at The Center at Donaldson, bringing together families and athletes alike for some friendly, fun competition.
“I was inspired by ‘The Amazing Race’ television show to do a race around our campus and thought it would be a really great way to engage our families in the area and just to have a fun event,” said Amanda Maynard, director of development for the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ.
The Dash consisted of two courses: a family course and a challenge course. The family course had 12 stations designed to accommodate the younger ones with challenges at their skill level. Here competitors could find activities such as making puzzles, kicking soccer balls into goals, building fun contraptions with Legos, and creating paper airplanes to throw into hula hoops.
The challenge course then contained 15 stations with a variety of mental and physical activities at a higher level of difficulty. These competitors participated in events including kayak sprints across the lake, counting stacks of bricks, carrying hay bales to different locations, and frisbee tosses to keep everyone active and on their toes.
This event has been three years in the making. The COVID-19 pandemic caused the Dash to be canceled previously, and Maynard was pleased to see it all finally come together this year.
“It's a really good feeling,” she said. “I love bringing people to the campus, it's kind of off the beaten path a little bit. I love having events; I love the Sisters being here to interact with everyone. I'm really happy we had a beautiful day, and I'm very happy that we're finally having this.”
The event also allowed the Sisters and co-workers to show others the beauty of The Center at Donaldson. The Center at Donaldson consists of four ministries in one location including, MoonTree Studios, Ancilla Beef and Grain Farm, Lindenwood Retreat & Conference Center, and Catherine Kasper Life Center.
“I think it went really well for our first time actually getting it off of the ground,” said Jessye Gilley, donor relations officer for the Poor Handmaids. “Overall, I'm really pleased with it. It got a lot of people out to The Center at Donaldson and on the property to see all the beautiful scenery. So I think it went great.”
Her favorite part, however, was simply seeing everyone enjoy the event and all the activities planned.
“My favorite part was seeing everybody run around,” Gilley said. “There were so many cute families doing some of our family events such as the ‘shake it to make it’ challenge, and the challenge course for the water head was hilarious to watch. Just watching people have a nice day outside on a Saturday and enjoying something we (co-workers) get to enjoy all day every day was what I really liked.”
Challenge course teams weren’t just competing for bragging rights; however, but also to win a total of $1,000 for being the first to cross the finish line. It was Team No Sleep who ended up victorious.
“It wasn't expected, really,” said Nico Avila, a member of the winning team and a sophomore at Marian University’s Ancilla College. “We started off walking and didn't start running until almost halfway, but after that halfway point, we sprinted the whole way through getting all these challenges done. It clicked in our mind and we were like, ‘we want the money.’”
“I'm just grateful for this,” Avila added. “It was really fun being able to compete with my sophomore friends – it’s our last year here. It's just cool to have this experience.”
Team Been There Run That were the runner-ups, winning $500, and team Star took home third, each receiving gift certificates for community events at The Center at Donaldson.
With food trucks, vendors, and a little village area, contestants and volunteers also had the chance to dive deeper into the ministries at The Center at Donaldson and to learn more about how each ministry serves the community.
“Hopefully as the years go on, this will grow to be a really big community event where people can come out and have a good time, eat some good food and learn a little bit about what the Sisters do and how they make an impact on the community,” Maynard said.
The Poor Handmaid Sisters are passionate about giving back and serving their communities, and all proceeds from the Donaldson Dash will be used for greatest needs of the ministries.
“When our donors give to the greatest needs, they're trusting that the Sisters are going to put it to where it's needed most in our community, and that's exactly what they do,” Maynard said.
For instance, in Northwest Indiana, it would assist with funding places such as the Sojourner Truth House in Gary, a facility that assists children and mothers in need. In Kenya, it would fund the Caring Place and orphanage established by the Sisters to care for young boys abandoned or orphaned into adulthood and even into college in many cases.
“These women are truly amazing,” said Gilley.
Gilley, Maynard, and everyone at The Center at Donaldson wants to thank everyone involved to make this event one for the books, and welcome anyone with feedback or suggestions moving forward to contact Gilley at email@example.com. For more information on the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, please visit poorhandmaids.org.