JOHNSTON, Iowa - For the third year in a row, Johnston Mayor Paula Dierenfeld is about to put some mileage on the pavement.
"Well you know, it's for such a good cause. And what I have learned in my lifetime, is that if you create a fun opportunity for people to give, they give even more," she said. "We have very generous people who live in Central Iowa, but if you create a fun event for them, and involve the entire community in that giving opportunity, they turn out and they turn out in a big way."
Mayor Dierenfeld's challenge works like this: during the month of December, every bag of food donated to the Johnston food bank, or for every $10 donation, she will run one mile. In its first year, the mayor racked up around 30 miles. Last year, she had to run 191 miles - spread out over 19 days. This year, the food bank is reporting more than 250 bags or equivalent donations. That's a lot of running.
"Well last year, we raised 191 bags, and when I learned it was 191, I thought, 'Okay, I've got to accelerate that challenge for myself. And that is, you know, I need to do it in a short enough period of time that it sounded impressive.' So last year, I did the 191 miles in 19 days, and finished it on Martin Luther King Day," she said.T"his year, we of course raised our expectations, and we set an even higher goal, and I am hopeful that the contributions are sufficient enough this year, that they'll get me to Valentine's Day."
The final tally isn't in just yet, but with early numbers Friday morning, it's looking like the mayor may make it close to her goal. She says she plans to begin chipping away on those miles on Saturday, New Year's Eve.