“I am no longer qualified to direct the Great Race due to present medical limitations,” Ronald E Schmanske, President and CEO announced with hesitation as he introduced the United States Navy Band and Sea Chanters Chorus at the Lerner Theatre March 10, 2012 to a “no seats available” crowd. “However, tonight is just another thank you to all of you!” Schmanske continued as he recalled The Great Race hosting military bands annually for over 20 years in Northern Indiana. As a part of this event SANTA’S PANTRY collected 2500 pounds of non-perishable food to benefit two Elkhart County pantries.
The Great Race began in 1981 as “Y” Run Club as a fundraiser for local charities with participants competing in power walk, run and fun walk. Historically, the funds raised from pledges have met or exceeded the goals established. The Great Race was able to accomplish 32 successful years with as many as 350 volunteers yearly including staff and safety controllers. During that time, The Great Race became Elkhart County and Northern Indiana’s first state community sports festival with 37 competitive events. Schmanske’s legacy includes raising over two-and-a-half million dollars plus gifts in kind for local charities and not-for-profit agencies.
The Great Race will soon report on its proposed plans for re-organization of its 501(c) (3) agency. At a date to be announced a new exciting fun event under new leadership will be created.
The Great Race Festival will go forward into the future with new management team partnerships in the years ahead but without its founding President and CEO Ron Schmanske.
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