Standing in a sea of purple hats, coats and scarves was Wanda Broeker, an Iowa Wesleyan (IW) alumna. Broeker organized a run/walk under the festival of lights on the Old Threshers grounds to raise money for Iowa Wesleyan in an effort to keep the school running.
When Broeker heard the news of the dire financial straits the university was in, she was devastated.
“I teared up because it’s my school,” she said. “They’ve always been there for me.”
On Thursday, Nov. 1, the university’s board of trustees held a special session to discuss the future of the institution as University President Steven Titus posted a letter to the university’s website Thursday, Nov. 1, stating the board of trustees will convene for a second special session on Nov. 15, to discuss whether the institution has the finances to stay open. Officials say they need $2.1 million in relief to carry on through spring, or $4.6 million to last through December 2019.
On Wednesday, Nov. 14, Broeker was there for her school. In just a week and a half, she organized a run/walk a mile-and-a-half long through the festival of lights on the Old Threshers grounds. She said she was able to pull it together so quickly because of the town’s effort to and commitment to keeping the school open.
Her first step was to contact the Old Threshers grounds and see if they would allow the walk. Al Huisinga, executive director of the Old Threshers Foundation, was on board immediately.
“We thought this was an excellent idea,” he said. “We hope this will be a spark to set a fire in the community.”
Huisinga has long-standing roots at IW, as both of his in-laws are graduates. He said seeing so many community members turn out for the event was exciting and hopeful because he says the community will not let IW go without a fight.
“I feel very confident that we’re going to figure this out,” he said. “People are stepping up to the plate and I’m confident we’re going to find a way to keep this going.”
Stepping up to the plate was a crucial part of last night’s event. Broeker said an anonymous donor promised a $5,000 match if the event raised as much.
By the end of the night, Broeker was able to announce they not only met the goal, but exceeded it and were able to turn over $10,255 to the university.
“It almost brought me to tears,” she said. “It made me feel really special to be part of that and it made me proud to be from Mt. Pleasant.