HELENA – A major sponsorship announced Friday will help support the Governor’s Cup in Helena – and access to health care across Montana.
Montana Rail Link and the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation are committing $20,000 a year for the next three years to the Governor’s Cup.
“It’s a great race and activity for the Queen City, and we’re just proud to be a part of it,” said Jim Lewis, MRL’s chief sales and marketing and information officer.
The 45th annual Governor’s Cup will be held on June 9. Starting this year, the race will be the main fundraiser for the Caring Foundation of Montana. Leaders say MRL and the Washington Foundation’s contribution will give the Caring Foundation a strong financial base to expand its efforts.
The foundation was created by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, which presents the Governor’s Cup each year. It will provide funding for BCBS’s Care Van program, a partnership with local public health agencies to provide vaccinations, preventive health screenings and other services in rural and underserved areas. So far, leaders say the Care Van has delivered more than 10,000 vaccinations in 30 countries around Montana.
“It grew so rapidly, because of the great need for access all across the state, and so we quickly decided we needed a foundation so that we could further support these efforts,” said Jamey Petersen, who led the Care Van program and is now executive director of the Caring Foundation.
All registration fees and sponsorship money for the Governor’s Cup will now go directly toward the foundation’s mission.
“We’re extremely grateful to have such a prominent event be entitled to the Caring Foundation,” Petersen said. “There’s no way that we would be able to build such sustainability so quickly without the support of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, the Washington Foundation, Montana Rail Link and of course the Governor’s Cup.”
John Doran, BCBS’s vice president of external affairs, said this is the first year Governor’s Cup proceeds have gone directly to the Care Van, but that the event has always been a way to promote healthy living.
“The Governor’s Cup’s main mission has been to encourage health and wellness through running, and to instill a passion for running in individuals and families across the state of Montana,” he said.
Leaders made the sponsorship announcement at Smith Elementary School, where hundreds of students are taking part in the Governor’s Cup Kids’ Marathon program. Kids at 13 participating schools spend six weeks training, with two running sessions a week. Then, on the night before the Governor’s Cup, they’ll take part in a one-mile fun run.
Sara Wunderlich, a fourth-grade teacher who leads Smith’s training efforts, said about 85 percent of the school’s students are taking part in the Kids’ Marathon program.
You can find more information about the Caring Foundation of Montana at caringfoundationmt.org. If you want to register for the Governor’s Cup or learn more about the race, you can visit govcupmt.com.