When Utah was prepping for the 2002 Olympics, there were countless committees and volunteer groups preparing for events in Salt Lake, Park City and Ogden. Several projects were undertaken with the term “Legacy” – projects that would serve as a lasting inheritance to residents and future visitors.
The volunteer group in Ogden wanted to build a legacy as well. How can you take all of the upward momentum and maintain it far beyond the Winter Games?
More than a decade later, the “Legacy” aimed for has been achieved.
Near the end of Olympic preparations, the group met one final time. “We had sort of this one opportunity to capture this audience and to engage them for the future,” says Kym Buttschardt, a member of that original team. They formulated what has become the GOAL Foundation and set up a network of volunteers from the Olympic team.
“The GOAL Foundation is a non-profit organization that was founded shortly after the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. With assistance from local businesses and thousands of volunteer hours, the GOAL Foundation’s aim is to attract, organize, support and encourage premiere athletic events that promote an active lifestyle in Northern Utah.”
The volunteer network has grown over the years and so has the scope of GOAL’s work. They took on the Ogden Marathon a few years ago, hired an executive director and have slowly picked up a handful of staff. They have since added the Hurt in the Dirt race series which includes a co-ed duathlon, a women’s trail run, and a co-ed night run. They work with Ogden City, Weber County and Visit Ogden to manage and coordinate volunteers for major events that come into town.
While GOAL is most commonly known for the Ogden Marathon, they offer a multitude of community give-back programs such as a shoe drive that provides athletic shoes to grade school athletes who can’t afford the appropriate gear. They host summer camps at a minimal cost, including the state’s only mountain bike camp for elementary-age kids. GOAL Foundation provides an on-campus running program for three local elementary schools, working with kids over a six-month period to teach proper running form in preparation for their annual kids 5k that crosses the same finish line as the Ogden Marathon. They are actively expanding the program to offer to other schools in the Weber and Ogden School Districts. The marathon and primary sponsors are a major part of funding these programs.
Several years ago, they created the acronym for the foundation: Get Out and Live. GOAL. Everything they do fosters that idea. Every event they host features a family activity such as a kids’ 1k, 5k or a mini-version of the duathlon, all performed on the same course as the adult participants. The central idea is to provide ways and means to get out and be active in the community.
With a network of more than 4,000 active volunteers, and a staff of only five, the Foundation continues to carve out new, broader and bigger ways to build their existing legacy. This past year, GOAL began the process of developing a fitness trail along Ogden’s River Parkway. The trail will be open to the public and will feature fitness stations that are completely one-of-a-kind in terms of design. The trail is set to open in mid-spring 2015.
This year marked another milestone for the Foundation. They purchased a building in which to house their operations, and are currently in the process of prepping the space for the move-in. With several new staff members, a new home, and another ten years they will achieve yet a loftier goal. The legacy continues….