LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - In a time when money is tight everywhere, it was a hurdle one Jefferson County Public Schools high school wasn’t sure it could make.
But with a little time, some out-of-the-box thinking and some good old fashioned elbow grease, parents, students and school leaders at Eastern High School have quite a showstopper on their hands.
Eastern High School is known for its premier track and field program, however the track itself fell into major disrepair. So much so, the multi-state meet the school hosts every year had to be moved to the University of Louisville.
The pictures taken and archived say it all.
The track for talented student athletes looked more like an obstacle course, as runners tried to avoid giant potholes.
“You could see through the rubber and to the asphalt,” head track coach Mike Horan said.
Pieces of the 20-year-old rubber surface chipped right off. To make matters worse, it was dated -- still a 440 yard track.
“The state changed from yards to meters back right around 1980 when I was born,” Horan explained.
Horan had to do something. Afterall, Eastern High is home to one of the top track meets in the country, The Eastern Relays, and the school has produced multiple state champions, including huge track stars like Olympian Simi Adeagbo.
Three years ago, Horan started a fundraising effort he called the “400 Meter Project.” He got donations totaling $175,000, but about $200,000 more was needed.
“If this was a private school, someone could probably write a big check,” parent Roger Dermody, who has two daughters on the team, said.
Dermody and several other Eagle parents ended up at the bank.
“The parents had to kind of back the loan, and we were able to secure the financing,” he explained.
But the parents believed it was a risk worth taking.
The track and field program makes money to pay the loan back. It comes from the gate during meets, entry fees for teams, and concessions that stay open all day. And that’s where JCPS helped out -- by funding a new concession building.
Students and parents also put in sweat equity and helped save $20,000 by doing all the demo themselves.
"It’s a quarter mile of track so that’s a lot of peeling,” Dermody said. “They had the cross country and track teams out here -- about 100 students and a couple giant dumpsters.”
The new seven-layer track is surrounded by new hurdles, pole vault, high jump pits and steeple chase. The coach is thankful for the true team effort.
“It’s been a blessing all the way through,” Horan said, “to see the way that our parents, our coaches, our athletes and really the entire community has stepped up to help make this happen.”
Weather permitting, the new track will be striped soon and ready for competition come springtime.