An unprecedented number of businesses collaborated to raise money in support of constructing the next section of greenway that will eventually connect the towns of Blowing Rock and Boone with a pedestrian and bicycle-friendly alternate route that benefits residents, visitors, and businesses of Watauga County.
The Round Up for the Middle Fork Greenway (MFG) rallied support with its 2nd community-wide fundraiser. One hundred and thirty Watauga County businesses participated by asking their customers to round up their purchase to the next dollar or give to a donation jar. Some businesses gave a percentage of their sales for the month or gave a one-time donation. The collective effort raised $182,000 and counting. There were also over 50 individuals that donated.
“Originally, the goal for the 2019 Round Up was targeted to raise $200,000. At the official check drop off party held at Mystery Hill on August 16th, we realized we fell just short of our goal,” said MFG Director, Wendy Patoprsty. “Luckily, an anonymous donor didn’t want to give up and pledged a $9,000 gift if we could rally the support to raise an additional $9,000 to meet the $200,000 goal. So, there is still time to give and make a huge impact on this project. A gift now will essentially be doubled thanks to this very generous challenge gift!”
“The July Round-Up for The Greenway event gives us a great opportunity to let our visitors from around the country help support this amazing trail that will soon make it easy for both local and visiting families to enjoy all the Middle Fork of the New River has to offer while preserving the delicate natural habitats that exist around the river,” said Matthew Underwood, owner of Mystery Hill. “Supporting the Greenway is good for our business, our community and the environment and that makes supporting it both financially and in-kind a win-win for everyone. We invite everyone to come out and park at Mystery Hill as they explore the completed section between us and Tweetsie Railroad. The kids will love exploring the tunnel and getting in the creek at Sterling Creek Park. The Underwood family and staff at Mystery Hill, The 1903 Dougherty House Museum, The Moon and Irene Mullins Artifacts Collection, and Professor Finnegans Old Time Photo Parlour are proud to support The Middle Fork Greenway throughout the year.”
“The Wellness Center has such a unique platform to support local initiatives like the Middle Fork Greenway project,” said Broyhill Wellness Center Member Manager, Katie Greene. “With hundreds of community members coming through the doors on a daily basis, we were able to raise awareness and excitement with the July roundup. We “rounded up” transactions from current members but also donated all July initiation fees from new members to the cause. The Middle Fork Greenway project is so unifying in nature – supporting community wellness and also protecting this land that we love – it was an obvious partnership that I see continuing through the years to come!”
“The success from this fundraiser creates quite a compelling story to present to donors, corporate foundations, and to include in grant applications,” said Patoprsty. “It illustrates how much the community supports the project and are banding together to make it a reality. We hope that the money raised from the Round Up will leverage other large gifts so that progress can continue at this rate.”
Construction for the Blowing Rock Trailhead is underway. There are multiple parking spaces, a covered pavilion overlooking the river, and a paved sidewalk extends north toward Shoppes on the Parkway. Coming soon, amenities including bike racks, a custom Charleston Forge bench, signage, , and landscaping will bring the trailhead to life.
The next 1.3 miles of Section 1 are under engineering and permitting phase with a target to begin construction in 2020, and will continue from the trailhead passing under the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge.
Currently, one mile of the Middle Fork Greenway is completed from the Tweetsie Railroad parking area heading south past High Gravity Adventures, Mystery Hill, under Hwy 321 to the 3.5-acre Sterling Creek Park.
Right now, a gift to the Middle Fork Greenway will double in impact thanks to the $9,000 challenge match to fill the fundraising gap. If you would like to contribute, please visit www.middleforkgreenway.org/donate or mail a check to: Middle Fork Greenway PO Box 568 Boone, NC 28607.