Mickey Boell is looking for a punchline.
But it’s no joke that a Catholic priest and a Nazarene pastor walked into a nutrition store and developed a fundraising idea.
The event is called, United in Faith, and is a 5-kilometer fun run and walk.
It will start at 8:30 a.m. April 3 at Johnson Lake in Fremont.
The public is invited to participate. The cost is $15 per person with proceeds going to Fremont Area United Way. Funds will be used to help people needing rental assistance.
Participants can register on the day of the event, but the registration deadline is March 24 for those wanting a T-shirt.
The fundraising idea began at the Max Fitness where Boell and the Rev. Walter Nolte and other folks go-to exercise.
Boell is worship and youth pastor at Fremont Nazarene Church and Nolte is the priest at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Boell and Nolte have talked about what their churches have been doing at this very different time.
They recognized a foundational similarity.
“Even though we might do things a little differently at our churches, we still ultimately have the one goal of bringing people to Jesus Christ,” Boell said. “We wanted a way to celebrate and show unity. There’s no reason for us to be separated all the time when we have this one goal.”
Boell and Nolte came up with an idea designed to get local churches involved in a fun run-walk that would raise money for a charitable cause.
They hope more churches will participate.
“We want any church that would like to be involved to come and take part in it,” Nolte said.
Two weeks after they discussed the fundraising idea, Nolte said he learned from FAUW Board Chairman Tad Dinkins about how that agency has been helping families who need rental assistance.
Nolte figured FAUW would be the agency to receive event proceeds since local churches already support it.
Boell said the event has been well received and Nolte said Max Nutrition owner Josh McIntyre and folks who exercise there have been supportive.
Max Nutrition will compile registrations. Checks are to be made out to the Fremont Area United Way, which Boell said will be the financial holder.
The event will take place on what’s called Resurrection Saturday — the day in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Nolte believes the fundraiser fits with the observance of the Lenten season, the time before Christ’s death and resurrection.
It’s a time of prayer, fasting and alms giving.
“This is a financial sacrifice of $15,” Nolte said. “It’s also alms giving. It’s a way of collecting monies during Lent to help those who are less fortunate and it’s very much united to the Christian faith which is taking care of those in need.”
Nolte hopes students will get involved along with adults.
Boell added that youth and adults today aren’t just living through a pandemic of a virus, but a pandemic of opinions.
Many people have opinions about COVID-19 and how it’s been handled.
But the fact remains that people have been negatively affected by it.
And the fundraiser is a way local churches can help those negatively impacted by the virus, she said.
“We want people to know that God loves them and that we want to help make that love more visible,” Nolte said.
The event isn’t a race and prizes won’t be awarded.
“It’s literally just a way for us to be together,” she said. “The Bible teaches us that we’re one body under Christ. This is just one way that we celebrate that.”
Boell added that although the event is faith-based, it’s open to everyone. Nolte also said people can come to watch. Those who don’t want to walk or run still can make a donation to the FAUW and use the “United in Faith” moniker so funds will go for rental assistance.
Nolte said he could see this becoming an annual event with organizers evaluating each year where the proceeds should go.
Registration forms are available at Max Nutrition, St. Patrick’s and Fremont Nazarene Church. Forms also can be printed from the United in Faith 5K Fun Run/Walk Facebook page. Forms can be found under the Discussion tab on that page.
Event organizers look forward to the fun run and walk and believe it’s good to help local causes.
“I’m excited about it,” Nolte said.
Boell jokingly says there should be a punchline about a pastor and a priest walking into a nutrition store and talking to a personal trainer.
But she’s serious when talking about churches working together for a cause.
“We’re united in our desire to help those who are in need,” Nolte added.
Churches interested in participating are invited to call St. Patrick’s at 402-721-6611 and ask for Sharon or the Nazarene church at 402-727-6445 and ask for Mickey.