SARANAC LAKE - A local parent spearheaded a fundraising campaign that generated more than $15,000 in three weeks for a new football scoreboard at Ken Wilson Field.
Mike Ryan and students in the district's football program delivered a check for $15,415 to the school board at its Wednesday meeting. The money will pay for a new scoreboard to replace the field's 30-year-old model, which school officials say is outdated, difficult to maintain and breaks down periodically.
Ryan, who has two kids in the school district, including a son who will play varsity football next fall, said he decided to raise funds for a new scoreboard after talking one day with members of the 5th Quarter Club, the booster club for the school's football programs.
A check for $15,415 to purchase a new football scoreboard at Ken Wilson Field was presented to the Saranac Lake school board Wednesday by Mike Ryan, a local parent who led the fundraising campaign, and students in the district’s football program. From left are school board Vice President Clyde Baker, Superintendent Gerald Goldman, seniors Matt Phelan and Craig Leahy, sophomore Killian Ryan, his father Mike Ryan, and head football coach Eric Bennett.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
"They were venting a little bit," Ryan said. "They said they needed money for uniforms and they had to get money for buses to go to the quarterfinals. They were clicking off all their projects and they said scoreboard. They said the old one is 30 years old this year, so that's when I said I'll take over the scoreboard. I took it and ran with it, and it turned out to be really successful."
"We decided to do a two-week fundraiser, and my goal was to get 100 people at 100 bucks a person because we were looking for a $10,000 number. It turned out we were going to need closer to $15,000, so we added that third week."
Ryan said he knocked on a lot of doors and reached out to people who were interested in the program to raise the money. Several big donations came in, including $1,000 each from Casella Waste Management, the Adirondack Surgical Group and Burnham Financial Services. A pair of donations from Can-Am Rugby and the Saranac Lake Mountaineers totaled $1,000.
"I also had donations for $5 and $20, and they were from people who really don't have the resources to do it but they wanted to be part of it," Ryan said. "We had an amazing number of people who have no kids in the program, don't go to the games, and some who were retirees who just love the idea. They knew that with the way the school budgets are, we're not going to have that kind of money floating around."
Ryan said publicity about the fundraiser in the Enterprise led to more donations. He said he purposely avoided approaching Main Street merchants for money because he said they get solicited so often for various causes.
Mark Farmer, the district's athletic director, said he was overwhelmed by the amount of support for the fundraising campaign.
"It never ceases to amaze me how giving our community is to our kids," he said. "We're very grateful for this. I give Mike a lot of credit. He's a passionate football supporter. To do what he did in three weeks is just unbelievable."
Farmer said the money raised will cover the entire cost of the project. He said the new scoreboard will look similar and be the same size as the one that's there now except it will incorporate LED and wireless technology. Delay of game clocks are also included in the package, he said.
Farmer told the school board that the 5th Quarter Club recently pledged nearly $5,000 to buy new uniforms for the district's football teams. Money to buy new uniforms has been repeatedly cut from the district's budget, and the last time new uniforms were purchased was more than a decade ago, Farmer said.
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.