Ross to match $10,000 in SYC gym donations


BUCKHANNON — The best local donation you can make isn’t a donation at all — it’s an investment.

That’s the message local businessman, Mike Ross, CEO of Mike Ross, Inc., is trying to spread by issuing the Mike Ross Challenge.

Ross on Friday donated $10,000 to the Stockert Youth Center capital campaign, the goal of which is to raise enough money to construct a new gymnasium/auditorium — estimate to cost approximately $400,000.

On Friday, on the steps leading down to the old gym, Ross handed over a $10,000 check to mayor David McCauley, SYC executive director Debora Brockleman and SYC board members Don Nestor and county commissioner Troy “Buddy” Brady.

But along with his check, he also issued a challenge to the people of Upshur County, asking them to match his $10,000, not individually but as a whole.

“It doesn’t matter how much you give,” Ross said. “Even if it’s only a dollar, every dollar counts. This is an investment in our kids, and our kids are our future. I’m hoping people will make a contribution that will match [my donation], no matter what size.”

Ross said he first learned about the city’s efforts to raise the $400,000 for a new SYC gym from Don Nestor. Those efforts were reinvigorated in late 2017 when Brady, Nestor, McCauley and the owners of the new Stone Tower Brews on Main Street each pledged $1,000 to the campaign at a city council meeting.

“Don Nestor, he mentions it to me sometimes, and I just see the activities all the time, and I know the value of keeping kids busy,” Ross said. “Busy kids don’t get in much trouble. That’s so important. I grew up in a family of 14, so I know what it’s like having kids around.”

Brockleman said revamping and expanding the gymnasium is essential because Stockert’s programs — both for children and adults — are outgrowing the amount of space currently available.

“I feel the gym is a very important part of Stockert’s future, the main reason being is because our programs are being expanded so much that we are out of space,” she said Tuesday. “It would be huge for our basketball program; however, it’s a win-win for all the other programs that we have and also the other activities and events that we host throughout the year.”

An expanded gymnasium, she said, would be the perfect rain location for W.Va. Strawberry Festival events, Fall Fest, Christmas craft shows and more.

“I just think it would be a great thing for the community and for Stockert,” Brockleman said.

Ross’ donation brings the SYC capital campaign up to $165,033, finance and administrative director Amberle Jenkins said Monday. And if the community matches Ross’ donation, the amount would jump to $175,000, McCauley, a longtime proponent of SYC, said Monday.

Bumping that number up to $200,000 is critical, the mayor said, since capital campaigns don’t really get off the ground until they’ve reached the halfway mark.

“Capital campaigns traditionally aren’t even launched until half the sought funds are in hand,” McCauley said. “If we hit the halfway point, we’ll explore all grant, gift and other construction options to realize full funding and hence the building’s completion.”

Completion is important because the current gym size is simply insufficient, McCauley added.

“The current gym is a crackerbox built decades ago for elementary-aged children,” he said. “This facility needs a full-sized auditorium/gymnasium and multi-use space. The possibilities are endless if a full auditorium is realized for athletics, arts, festival use, possible indoor use for Festival Fridays, the list goes on and on.”

According to a city press release, SYC hosts a wide array of activities for children and even some for adults, including basketball, karate, tumbling, yoga, dance, Zumba, kickboxing and drill teams.

There are several ways to make a contribution, including mailing a check written to the city of Buckhannon with “SYC capital campaign” in the memo line to 70 E. Main St., Buckhannon, WV 26201; calling city hall at 304-472-1651; or visiting the campaign’s GoFundMe page online at gf.me/u/f8xszf.

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