Longstanding Event Raised More Than $25,000
Writer / Julie Yates
Hit the Bricks, the major fundraiser of the Zionsville Optimist Club (ZOC), celebrated its 40th anniversary on Oct. 1. The weather cooperated as serious runners, families with strollers and groups of friends enjoyed the 5k run/walk and 3k walk along the Zionsville Rail Trail into the quaint village of downtown Zionsville. Participants enjoyed the experience even more by knowing the funds raised by the event benefit Boone County youth programs.
The start and finish of this year’s race was at Zionsville Town Hall. As in past years, event t-shirts were given to each registered participant and top 5k finishers in each age category were awarded prizes. To commemorate the 40th anniversary, there were raffle prizes including gift cards to local restaurants and businesses.
The ZOC began in 1981 and is a chapter of Optimist International, an organization over a century old. The service club is dedicated to aiding area organizations and programs that provide positive experiences for young people. Money raised from Hit the Bricks has quietly funded several worthwhile programs since it began in 1982.
“Running took off in the ‘70s and ‘80s and the idea of holding a combination race and walk was an effort to raise money and spread it around the county. Mayflower Moving Company sponsored it that first year. They made a $5,000 contribution which was quite generous back then,” says Tim Ottinger, outgoing President.
This year, Hit the Bricks raised over $25,000 thanks to a combination of support. There are three levels of sponsorships: bronze, silver and gold. For the last three years, members have also reached out to family and friends and invited them to become A Friend of Youth by contributing to the event. This group of contributions accounts for almost 35% of the total amount raised.
“Once people hear about all the things that we give money to, they are surprised. Some are one-time things that pop up and others turn into something annual. We try to keep our ear to the ground to find out who is doing what, and then help if we can,” says Ottinger.
Every spring, members work with a Zionsville Community High School speech teacher to host the first level of competition in The Optimist International Club Oratorical Contest. Winners receive medals and a cash award plus the chance to advance to the next level in competition. District winners are awarded scholarships ranging between $1,000-$2,500.
The club also works with Zionsville Community Schools in other ways. Each year a $1,000 scholarship is given to a student pursuing a four-year college degree as well as a one scholarship for a student pursuing an associate degree or vocational study. The organization also sponsors the Third Grade History Program which finishes the year up with a walking tour of downtown Zionsville and a visit to Sullivan Munce Cultural Center. Additionally, the club is involved with the high school after-prom program.
There are multiple other partnerships that the ZOC is a part of. They include Boys and Girls Club of Boone County, Zionsville Food Pantry and Indiana United Methodist Children’s Home among others. Sports programs are also sponsored.
A recent project funded by the organization was installed at Overley-Worman Park. In a partnership with Zionsville Parks and Recreation, a water fountain, bike racks and a bike repair station were purchased. Money raised from the 2021 Hit the Bricks made this substantial investment something that promotes getting outside and exercising possible.
The ZOC has a membership of about 35 people, but they would like to grow the organization. Members want to welcome people who are interested in promoting youth and can offer a bit of their time. Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of every month at Cobblestone Restaurant in downtown Zionsville. Dues are $70 per year.
“Children are our future. Our goal is to bring out the best in community youth by disbursement of the funds we raise. We’ve given out over $350 thousand over the course of four decades. We want to keep doing it,” says Cara Fausset, incoming President.