WINONA LAKE – Arron Patrick stood at the mouth of First Source Bank Field Wednesday morning looking like he could take on the world.
For a week, his soccer program at Grace College did.
Patrick and the Grace College men’s soccer program, with the help of a lot of friends, completed an impressive and more exhaustive week-long marathon. Its mission was originally a 48-hour endeavor with teammates doing virtual tag-ins and tag-outs from all over the globe. In its second day the endeavor eclipsed its initial financial goal of $5,000 to provide for a handful of relief agencies helping those affected by COVID-19. Before the end of its second day, as well as the story getting picked up by media outlets throughout the midwest, the team kept it going for a whole week.
“I wanted to feel physically invested. I didn’t want to just be emotionally invested, I wanted it to hurt,” Patrick said. “I wanted it to be painful and I wanted us to get something out of it as a team. It’s one thing to do the time, but it’s another thing to be physically in pain and still put your shoes on and get out. I think that will pay dividends for us in the fall.”
Patrick didn’t stand around holding a stopwatch and feel good about his club getting in some socially distanced fitness. No, no. Patrick closed out Wednesday morning with a full marathon, 26.2 miles, as part of a pay-it-forward for a large donation. And he did it starting at 3:30 a.m.. Program graduate assistant Isaac Lindahl ran last night during the hail storm, choosing to continue the chain as scheduled despite the adverse conditions. Sophomore defender Cole Voss ran the final leg, a 45-minute route ending on Grace’s soccer pitch.
A ‘college try’ back flip from Voss at high noon concluded 168 straight hours of running, quite a feat. Sore feet and otherwise.
“I’m blessed to be part of this community,” Voss said. “We wouldn’t have been able to do this without the community support, without the team support. It’s amazing to be on a team that inspires each other like this to help inspire the community. I’m just the last runner in this, but it took hundreds of runners all day, every day. Night shifts, running in front of cars so we could see the roads, and thankfully we ended on a beautiful day. I’m just blessed.”
At noon, Callie Patrick, Arron’s wife, reported the team had raised exactly $12,000 per the team’s GoFundMe page, where the fundraiser was set up a week ago. The team is still accepting donations.
The team, stationed all over the globe as Grace’s campus has been shut down for a couple weeks, had runners on four continents. The team also enjoyed the help of several of the other Grace athletic programs, faculty and community members that chipped in legs of the journey.
The team started the idea after one of its players, Ivan Santagiuliana, had two grandparents die in Italy from coronavirus. That was all the rallying the team needed.
“With any team, when someone is affected, it’s personal and it hits you hard,” Voss said, referring to the Santagiuliana family. “With Ivan, obviously it hits home hard. We love Ivan. Obviously, we’ve never met his grandparents before. But he’s our brother, and we wanted to be there in support for him and his family. We’re just trying to be there for him, and whoever this money helps, during this hard time.”