Created by mining a 270-million-year-old limestone deposit in the bluffs surrounding the Missouri River, SubTropolis is not your average underground business complex. Every winter for the past 31 years, the one-of-a-kind location is transformed into an open course by developer Hunt Midwest
, Kansas City, Mo., for a charity race benefiting the Children’s Therapeutic Learning Center (TLC)
This year, 1,500 spectators left the cold behind to cheer on 4,000 runners in the temperature-controlled SubTropolis
. Dubbed the Groundhog Run, participants can either take part in a 5-kilometer or 10-kilometer race or donate money and support runners from the sideline.
“Many people who volunteer for this event come back every year to help,” says SubTropolis Director of Operations Connie Kamps. “This year, about 100 volunteers came from the surrounding community.”
The first Groundhog Run, held in 1985, raised about $8,000 for the Children’s TLC, which provides therapeutic and educational services for kids with disabilities. This year brought in $227,000; to date, the event has raised nearly $3.9 million.
The Children’s TLC handles registration and fundraising efforts for the annual event while Hunt Midwest, a member of Associated Builders and Contractors’ Heart of America Chapter, turns the subsurface complex into a navigable running course.
“The Groundhog Run would not be our largest fundraiser if it weren’t for Hunt Midwest,” says Stephanie Volk, director of development at the Children’s TLC. “The time, energy and resources the Hunt Midwest staff put toward making the event a success is truly incredible.”
Hunt Midwest employees invested about 350 hours of work to make sure the 2013 race went off without a hitch. In addition to course setup and cleanup, volunteers helped monitor race-day water stations. Two teams of employees and their families also participated in the run.
“Our company supports other local and national charities, but the Groundhog Run is the one we put most of our manpower into,” Kamps says. “We are happy to participate as a corporate member of the community.”