For a moment in time, it seemed like the 2015 Tour of the Gila would not happen due to lack of funding. The generosity of an anonymous donor and a successful crowd funding campaign brought the race to life and excess dollars for charity.
Jack Brennan, owner of Gila Hike and Bike in Silver City and lead facilitator for the race, chose two charities to donate any excess funds, not used to operate the race. The Lanny Olson Scholarship Fund, offered to WNMU students through the University Foundation, received $1,700. The Amy D. Foundation, a non-profit organization supporting women bikers, also received $1,700.
“To me it was important to do something locally and Lanny Olson has been an important figure for the Tour of the Gila for years,” said Brennan. “He was involved in raising money so I reached out to his family.”
Brennan credits Olson for introducing him to WNMU and the relationship between the university and the annual race continues. Olson earned his bachelor’s degree from WNMU in 1987.
“WNMU is a sponsor and the Kinesiology Club gives out water,” said Brennan about the university’s support of the race.
The crowd funding campaign was far more successful than Brennan expected, having raised $17,000 from donors across the country in 30 days.
“I still include Lanny’s name as an event sponsor,” said Brennan about Olson, who passed away in 2012. “I always include his name in the program.”
Students can apply for the Lanny Olson Leadership Scholarship through the University Foundation. Contact 575-538-6310 for more information.