Uceny 5K supports family
PLYMOUTH — Nearly 100 people donned “Team Uceny” T-shirts bright and early Saturday morning and headed out the Plymouth High School track — the starting point for a 5K walk/run intended to help Plymouth native and Olympian Morgan Uceny’s family out with their travel expenses to the games in August. The organizer of the event, Debbie Palmer, said she began talking to Brenda Uceny about holding the event back in February.
“I knew Morgan was going to make it,” said Palmer Saturday as she waved to participants heading to the starting line.
The cost to runners and walkers was $25 per person, and the proceeds went directly to Brenda and Marty Uceny, Morgan’s parents, in order to help them with the tremendous expense of traveling to London to see their daughter compete. In addition to the run, several vendors were on site around the track selling Morgan merchandise. Judy Weston, a friend of Brenda Uceny’s, was busy outfitting everyone in the red, white, and blue “Team Uceny” t-shirts. She said that she has sold about 300 shirts in the past week from Yoder’s Sports Center, and estimates even more from the day of the run.
“I wanted to get the community involved,” said Weston of her decision to make the shirts. “When we found out Morgan would be running, it was so exciting. And I know how much (the trip) is costing (the Ucenys).”
Heather King, an employee of Beacon Credit Union, has been making “Morgan-inspired” necklaces all week with her co-workers at the bank. They are selling the chunky, colorful beaded necklaces for $5 each at the bank, and King had a pile of them for sale Saturday morning.
“It’s great that the community is stepping up,” said King. “If my son goes to the Olympics someday, I’m going to want to go, and I’d do anything possible to get there.”
So far, King and other employees at Beacon have sold more than 60 of the necklaces, made to be similar to the one that Morgan is wearing in most pictures of her running. King said that she has even received orders for the necklaces from Fort Wayne and southern Indiana. Beacon donated supplies for the necklaces, and the money collected will also go toward travel expenses.
“Our goal is to buy an airline ticket,” said King, adding that the cost of a ticket could be about $1,250.
Palmer said that organizing the event was fairly simple. After getting permission from the park department to allow runners on the Greenways Trails and from the high school athletic department to allow access to the track, Palmer said the event sort of fell into place. She believes participants feel a strong connection to the Uceny family and want to help out all they can.
“I think it’s the hometown pride and personal connection, either with running or with the family,” said Palmer.