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Cleaning Up

In Indiana, a high school athletic department raises about $7,000 by helping clean up after the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400.




At 7:30 a.m. the day after last May's Indianapolis 500, approximately 40 student-athletes and other volunteers from Covenant Christian High School (Indianapolis, Ind.) met at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for one of the school's most profitable fundraisers--cleaning up a section of the stands after the big race. In lieu of paying a $100 participation fee to the school's athletic department, the student-athletes help clean the stands after two races each year to raise about $7,000 as part of a program that sees the speedway donate to participating groups.

"Ours school has been participating in this program for 12 or 13 years," says Covenant Christian High School Athletic Director Andy Gossel. "Lately, we've been doing two or three races' cleanup per year. The track will contact us a couple of months beforehand to verify the races we're doing and give us the list of all the cleanup areas that are available. Then we sign up for the area we want, based on the size of our group."

Participation in the program is much sought after and groups are placed on a waiting list until a spot opens up, while the groups with the most longevity--some have done it for decades--get the first crack at some of the more preferable areas that might make a little more money, which is earned based on the amount of stand space cleaned by the group.

The speedway's cleanup timeline is flexible--the groups can go anytime during the day after the race. The track supplies gloves, trash bags, and tools such as rakes, brooms, and shovels. Gossel says his group usually brings along a few gas-powered leaf blowers to do the job done more efficiently.

"We try to get in early and get our assigned section cleaned up within a few hours," he says. "We're usually finished within three or four hours. It isn't fun work, but it also isn't hard--and it's an easy way to make a few thousand dollars for our program while doing something that helps us be involved with the community."

Along with the financial benefit, participating in the cleanup has helped reinforce the athletic department's culture. "By making it a requirement for our student-athletes, we've created buy-in for the athletic program and eliminated some of the feeling of entitlement that can go along with only having to show up for games and practices," Gossel says. "We have our spring student-athletes help clean up after the 500 and the fall athletes help after the Brickyard 400. And our winter athletes can choose to come to one or the other.
It's a good way for us to be involved with the community, raise a little bit of money, and instill the philosophy buying-in among our student-athletes and having them realize what it takes to make the program run from their end."


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