SARANAC LAKE - Just three weeks ago, Saranac Lake's Mike Ryan began a drive to raise money for a new football scoreboard that would replace the 30-year-old model that stands in the corner of the south end zone at Ken Wilson Field.
With what Ryan described as an "overwhelming response," a majority of those donations have already come in, and the final push to raise the rest of the estimated $15,000 is on. Tonight at Captain Cook's Bar and Grill in Saranac Lake, Ryan hopes to see the rest of the money pledged at a fundraising event that runs from 6 to 10 p.m.
"This is a once every 30 years fundraiser," Ryan said Thursday while he stood under the old scoreboard and accepted another $1,000 donated by Burnham Financial Services of Lake Placid. "This scoreboard is 30 years old, it's broken down, and you can't get parts for it anymore. The company just doesn't manufacture them anymore. When parts aren't working, all you can do is hope to pull them from other scoreboards."
Mike Ryan accepts a check from Heidi McGinnis of Burnham Financial Services on Thursday under the Red Storm scoreboard that is expected to be replaced before the start of the 2013 high school football season.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Overhearing a conversation was the inspiration for Ryan's drive when he found out Saranac Lake's Fifth Quarter Club noted the need for a new scoreboard. Because Ryan said he didn't want to interfere with fundraising efforts by other groups in the community, he didn't plan to pursue individuals or area businesses that often help local organizations.
As it turned out, individuals and businesses approached Ryan instead. Through a variety of efforts, including a hat day at the middle school where about 100 students donated $1 each, funds began coming in.
"We wanted to keep this off Main Street. We didn't want to interfere with the efforts of other organizations that are important to this community," Ryan said. "It's all been through word of mouth, and we've had donations coming in ranging from $5 to $750. Two weeks in, we were already well on our way."
As an employee of Burnham Financial Services, as well as a 1996 Saranac Lake graduate and a football fan, Heidi McGinnis was on hand to present Ryan with the check from her company owned by Jeff Burnham.
"Jeff Burnham didn't even go to Saranac Lake High School, but he still wanted to help," McGinnis said. "He's from Minerva. It's a small community much like Saranac Lake, and he likes sports. We do a lot of business in Saranac Lake, and he just wanted to give back to the community."
Tonight's fundraiser at Captain Cook's will feature a DJ, a 50/50 raffle and downhill skis will also be given away.
"I'm fairly certain we already have the $10,000, and after Friday, I'm confident we'll have the rest," Ryan said. "I'll just be watching the mailbox. I've had a ton of people say they just want to be a part of this."