The President Responds

NCRR Shares Details of its Nickel City Athletic Fund

Written By Todd S. Blackley,   President,   Nickel City Road Runners (NCRR)

The thread regarding the Aid to Athletes / Nickel City Athletic Fund has only recently come to my attention. As President of Nickel City Road Runners and Chair of the Nickel City Athletic Fund, I feel it is necessary to respond to allegations that are untrue and without basis.

The Nickel City Road Runners (NCRR) has been around for about 20 years. In the beginning it was just a group of fun loving runners with many things in common. Once we started to grow and put on some organized activities, it was necessary to define “who” we were and what our mission was. In 1990 we incorporated as a Not-for Profit organization under the IRS Section 501 c3. As a 501 c3, we must follow the provision distributing any profits; because of the way we incorporated, we distribute money to promote health and encourage physical fitness. The original “Aid to Athletes” was created to do just this. For some time, Aid to Athletes was administered through TAC-Niagara. Nickel City exercised only marginal control over the Aid to Athletes fund under this arrangement, but we were happy with the arrangements and outcomes. In the period around 1994-95, TAC politics changed, we lost even the small influence we had over the fund, and our suggestions and recommendations to TAC were ignored. TAC should still have a reasonable sum of money from Aid to Athletes, money earmarked for elite athletes from Erie and Niagara counties.

Over the last several years, we have reorganized the way we distribute money to the community. As was publicized in Mike Beebe’s Running Shorts column in 1998, we created the Nickel City Athletic Fund to disburse profits from our races. That fund has four categories: Elite Athletes, Teams or Individuals in Need, Race Sponsorship, Scholarships. More recently, in response to inquiries, we have widened the ‘home base’ for the elite athlete category to include all eight counties of Western New York.

I will address here the specifics of awards the Nickel City Athletic Fund has made since 1999, when the new arrangements were fully operational. In the past 2˝ years, the fund has distributed almost $20,000. Some of this total was a ‘backlog’ from 1998 and the transition to the new fund arrangement. Sources - principally our races - include JT Wheatfileds, Rooties, The Nickel City 5K, the New York State Duathlon and the Ellicottville Fall Festival Run.

The breakdown is:

$500Special Olympics
$750For Coach Szynanski and WNY Elites for USATF National Junior Olympics.
$500ECMC Lifeline Foundation, sponsorship for their race
$200An individual sponsorship to Team Diabetes
$600“Girls On The Run” - an inner city girls track club, for shirts and shoes
$300Ken-Ton YMCA for Partners in Youth
$500“Haven House” - a shelter for abused women to take children on a physical fitness field trip.

$500For Special Olympics
$300Kenton YMCA Partners in Youth
$500Haven House for the physical fitness field trip

2001 (so far)
$835Pioneer Track Club an inner-city track club for transportation to two meets
$750Special Olympics
$400YMCA Partners in Youth
$565Holy Angels Cross Country Team for uniforms
$500Scholarship for a male athlete from Clarence Track Team
$500Scholarship for a female athlete from Clarence Track Team
$500Individual Elite to Team World USA Duathalon
$500Individual Elite to the Australian Classic
$200Individual sponsorship for Team in Training Leukemia Society

Also during this time period, (1999-present), there were four applications that were denied, they are as follows:

  • (2) Under Elite where there was no qualifying event
  • Untimely, filed a year after the event
  • From outside of Erie & Niagara County. We have since changed the geographic area to include the 8 counties making up the WNY area.

Similarly, social events were held that often have money left over at the end of the year. From 1999-present the following contributions were made:

  • $1619 to Variety Club Telethon from a spring dance
  • $825 to Haven House from the Spring Thing Dance

Our sponsors also make contributions. The following contributions were made on their request:

  • JT Wheatfields Flag Day Run - Last year we gave $1,025 to Niagara Hospice as JT Wheatfields choice of a charity.
  • Rootie’s NCRR 5K - $3125 to the American Cancer Society for local funding as Rootie’s choice of a charity.
  • NYS Nickel City Duathlon - $1000 to the Franciscan Center (a home for troubled youths) as the major sponsor (Rizzo’s) choice of a charity.

In one of our races, (Rootie’s) we gave out $2000 in prize money in the past two years. We do this in one of our small races to keep the money local.

It should be noted that we do not make money on all races or events. Last year we lost quite a bit of money on the Rootie’s 5 K, but still gave out $1000 in prize money.

In the past two years we have mailed letters to 164 High School Athletic Directors asking for help giving away our money. At last years Nickel City 5K we gave out a full-page flyer outlining the Athletic Fund to all registered runners. Mike Beebe has also been kind enough to mention it in his Sunday column.

I’m sure you have noted that a good part of our money does not go to the top athletes, but to those who may be in the middle, the rear, or not even able to run. The core of our running club has been around a long time. As we grow older, we tend to become more social conscious. To many of us, running is a blessing, and we tend to count our blessings much more today than years ago. We are proud of our commitment to giving back to the community.

Our Athletic Fund Committee usually meets the first Monday of the month to review any applications and finalize recommendations for the general meeting on the first Tuesday of the month. It is at this time that the entire club votes on our recommendations.

If there are still any questions or constructive comments please feel free to contact me at: