FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Like other 10-year-olds, Fort Wayne Trails just wants money for its birthday.
As it celebrates its 10th year of three organizations coming together to form one 120-mile recreational trail system for the community, Fort Wayne Trails is looking for donations to support the maintenance it requires.
“It’s one thing to build a trail but you have to maintain it. That’s why donor dollars are so important,” said Anthony Juliano, the chair of the Fort Wayne Trails Board of Directors. “The trail system can only thrive and exist if we have charitable support, it’s really the only income we have.”
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the city’s trail system has been a incredibly popular destination. In just the months of March and April, the trails saw double the number of users compared to the same months of 2019. The amount of users is calculated by infrared trail counters.
Juliano said he’s thrilled about the increased usage because people who experience and use the recreational trails are more more likely to advocate for trail development.
However, “more use means more maintenance needs… and that’s the one thing that sometimes people forget about,” said Juliano.
This year has been especially challenging for Fort Wayne Trails financially because several of its “best” fundraisers were canceled because of COVID-19.
“Really what we need now is more individual giving to help offset those losses,” said Juliano.
To encourage more individual giving, or donations, and in celebration of the trails 10th anniversary, the $10 FOR 10 program was created. Juliano said the program is an opportunity for people to give a reoccurring gift of $10 a month. One time donations are also accepted.
In addition to health and fitness and environmental benefits, Juliano said a recreational trail system also provides an economic development gain.
“When people are looking for a place to live, they want quality of life amenities and Fort Wayne is really well positioned with a great trail system,” said Juliano. “That helps bring in new business too, because businesses obviously need employees so if you’re attracting new residents, you’re attracting new businesses and you’re going to maintain existing business as well.”
“I honestly think Fort Wayne trails is the best thing about the community that I live in. It’s a way to connect to neighbors, its a way to connect to nature, its a way to get some fitness and some activity at no charge,” said Juliano.
It’s important to stay as safe as possible when using the Fort Wayne Trails. Watch this video for a reminder of the Rules of the Road for cyclists:
There’s been some confusion about how to use the new trail crossings. Watch this video to clear up anything you’re unsure of:
To donate to the $10 for 10 program, visit fwtrails.org.