Knoblich honored for serviceWhen Larry Knoblich started the Runnin O’ the Green 32 years ago, he said the event consisted of 24 runners, and was an excuse for a fun time out on the town. Now it’s a charity event that draws thousands of people from all around the U.S., and has an economic impact of about $500,000 for Jamestown, said JoDee Rasmusson, executive director of the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce. Because of Knoblich’s efforts as founder and coordinator of the Runnin O’ the Green as well other efforts, he will be awarded the 2010 Outstanding Citizen of the Year award. The Jamestown Chamber of Commerce will make the presentation on Feb. 4 at an awards ceremony at the Gladstone Inn & Suites, Rasmusson said.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
When Larry Knoblich started the Runnin O’ the Green 32 years ago, he said the event consisted of 24 runners, and was an excuse for a fun time out on the town.
Now it’s a charity event that draws thousands of people from all around the U.S., and has an economic impact of about $500,000 for Jamestown, said JoDee Rasmusson, executive director of the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce.
Because of Knoblich’s efforts as founder and coordinator of the Runnin O’ the Green as well other efforts, he will be awarded the 2010 Outstanding Citizen of the Year award. The Jamestown Chamber of Commerce will make the presentation on Feb. 4 at an awards ceremony at the Gladstone Inn & Suites, Rasmusson said.
Each year runners start at the Frontier Fort and make their way through the downtown bars in Jamestown stopping at each location on the list. Each year Knoblich also stresses that binge drinking is not encouraged and participants do not need to drink alcohol to participate in the event.
Hundreds of people skip the registration fees that go to charities in the past years and go on the run anyway, but it doesn’t bother Knoblich. He said he’d probably spend the $10 on beer himself during his years at Jamestown College.
But last year a group of participants from Fargo tracked Knoblich down at the Buff and all paid their registration fees so Knoblich said he still has faith in the run.
“I think it’s the fact that some people don’t realize the money goes to charities,” Knoblich said.
Last year, more than $20,000 was raised to help the Elks Camp Grassick in Dawson, N.D., and other causes.
“I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for those people that are struggling, particularly those with a mental or physical handicap,” Knoblich said.
Aside from Camp Grassick, 19 cancer patients also received donations to help pay for treatments, gas money or lodging.
Knoblich said he doesn’t know of any family that has not been affected by cancer in some way.
It’s not just helping raise money for charities that keeps Knoblich working on the Runnin O’ the Green each year. It’s also the money raised in town that helps service industry workers and downtown businesses, he said.
After the run was over one year, Knoblich and friends were hanging out at the old location of the Elks Club, when a man he never met before was cleaning up the mess left behind by runners. Knoblich said he apologized for the mess and the man said he didn’t mind because his girlfriend, who was bussing tables at Lil’s Side Door at the time, walked away with $65 in tips.
Knoblich said he has seen people shopping at Gun & Reel Sports Inc. for green sweatshirts, and 40 people at one time in M and H Gas Station on the day of the run. He also believes it is the busiest day of the year for downtown bars.
This year’s Runnin O’ the Green will be on March 20, the first day of spring.
Another reason Knoblich will receive the award is for serving on the Jamestown Parks and Recreation Board for 22 years, the past five as chairman of the board, Rasmusson said.
“They were wonderful parks when I became a member, and they are just as wonderful today,” he said. “We can certainly be called the city of parks.”
Many things in Jamestown parks have changed in the 22 years that Knoblich has served on the board. Wilson Arena was built, Hillcrest Municipal Golf Course added 9 holes and the old pro shop at the golf course was renovated and turned into The Bunker. Also, two disc golf courses were created, Leapaldt Park was constructed, the swimming pool was relocated and tennis courts were built in its old location.
“I don’t have a proudest accomplishment,” Knoblich said. “I just try to be part of the group.”
Joyce Heinrich is a Parks and Recreation commissioner who served eight years with Knoblich and said she believes he is deserving of the award.
“Larry is the most sincere person I’ve ever met,” Heinrich said. “He cares about everyone; he wants everything to be fair.”
His experience as a coach, teacher and knowledge as a community member make him a vital piece to the park board, she said.
Mike Landscoot, another Parks and Recreation commissioner for eight years, agreed that Knoblich has expertise after more than two decades of service in facilities and properties that Parks and Recreation has, and knowledge of how the board operates.
Knoblich credits the volunteer work of the Hockey Boosters, Jamestown Police Department, golf enthusiasts and others and contributions from the community to the work he helped accomplish on the Parks and Recreation board.
“Holy cow, we couldn’t do it without those people,” he said.
He said he felt the same way about the help he receives during the Runnin O’ the Green.
Knoblich used to send letters out to everyone who signed up and participated the previous year. In the early years he was mailing out 40 to 50 letters — now it is 1,600. Heinrich and Company Insurance Adjusters are mailing this year’s letters.
The Elks and Elkettes also do much of the work during the run. The Jamestown Chamber of Commerce and the Buffalo City Tourism Foundation also answer a myriad of questions that pertain to the run.
Knoblich called his volunteer labors more passion than work, and said he uses his free time for fishing and hunting.
“I’m the most retired person in Jamestown,” he said.
Knoblich said his goal is to take the run on its 50th year, when he’s 92 years old.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at email@example.com