Pictured left to right: Rob O’Neil, Co-Founder of Heart of Vermont Productions, Sharon Combes-Farr, Vermont Digital Economy Project Director, and Scott O’Neil, Co-Founder of Heart of Vermont Productions. (Photo by David J. Tepper.)
Last August, at the closing ceremony of the 100on100 Heart of Vermont Relay on Okemo Mountain in Ludlow, Heart of Vermont Productions co-founders Robert and Scott O’Neil presented me with a check for $9,000. The money was raised during the 2012 100on100 Relay through the sale of limited edition “Rebuild” T-shirts, along with a special per participant donation requirement. Since many of the wonderful towns that host the 100-mile race were badly damaged by Tropical Storm Irene, it was a fund-raising effort that meant a lot to the race organizers, as well as to the hundreds of runners who take part.
The circumstances that led up to the check presentation ceremony indicate what a small world this is. I have been a team captain of a 100on100 relay race team since 2008. Last summer, just a few weeks before the race, Rob and Scott heard me talking with Steve Zind on VPR about my work as the Vermont Digital Economy Project Director. They recognized my name and my voice. After learning about how the project helps flood-damaged towns leverage virtual infrastructure to boost economic development and resilience, they contacted me to see if I would take on the management of their Rebuild Fund by using it to further our work in the communities along the 100-mile race route. This route starts in Stowe in the north and travels south through Waterbury, Rochester, Killington, and Plymouth (among other towns), on its way to my home town of Ludlow.
Over the past year, we have used the Rebuild Fund donation to expand the web presence of several nonprofit organizations and community groups in these towns. A few examples of this work include new websites for Every Ones Child in Moretown, Whole Systems Health in Rochester, the Waterbury Senior Center, and the Plymouth Historical Society. The donation was also very helpful in extending the Wi-Fi zone implemented in downtown Waterbury, as well as the installation of a Wi-Fi hotspot in Rochester. Finally, the Rebuild Fund was used to host important disaster preparation workshops in Waterbury, one for Vermont’s network of food shelves and the other for nonprofits that manage volunteers during disasters in coordination with Vermont’s emergency managers.
I am personally very proud of the work the team has done over the past year. As we approach this year’s 100on100 race, I want everyone at Heart of Vermont Productions to know how humbled I am by their generous donation. As always, you’ll see me along Route 100 on race day!