“Start small, think big,” is the motto Furman’s Track Coach Robert Gary lives by. Coach Gary, a two-time Olympian, and his dedicated coaching staff have translated these words into results. In the last three years, Furman’s men’s and women’s cross country teams have won three consecutive Southern Conference Championships. After being ranked #10 in the US out of more than 300 NCAA Division 1 programs in 2015, our men’s team, along with Allie Buchalski in the women’s field competed against the nation’s best runners at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Allie became the programs first All-American finishing seventh overall and the men finished 13th in the country at the E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park in Louisville, Ky!
In November 1975, I was thrilled to make it to the NCAA Cross Country Championship under the guidance of Coach Bill Keesling. I remember the day of the race as if it were yesterday. Just a year earlier I had walked on to Furman’s cross country team, and a scholarship Coach Keesling provided allowed me to stay at Furman. Little did I know then how lessons learned in the classroom and from four years of running would shape my life.
Athletics have the power to transform lives, and my life is a testimony to this. In 2005, my wife Andrea and I established The Blue Shoes Endowed Scholarship to help give student-athletes access to a quality education. We named the endowment after the pair of Onitsuka Tiger running shoes I received my freshman year because we wanted the fund to represent something any donors could support if they too understood the positive role athletics can play in students’ lives.
During the last 10 years, we have worked with Furman to help build a nationally-ranked running program with Olympic aspirations. We also set a goal of growing the endowment to a minimum of $5 million. Because no one majors in Track, an athletic scholarship simply provides the financial access so crucial today for many great students to get a quality education. Scholarship monies also help Furman recruit students who can be outstanding contributors to society, as well as the next generation of committed alumni so important to Furman’s future.
With support from many, we are grateful to report the value of Blue Shoes has grown to $4 million. We hope to take this amount to the next level – to $5 million, because a strong track program is not sustainable without steady funding. If you also believe in the power of athletics to transform lives, please join us as we work to raise the additional $1 million. We would be honored to match your donation. Feel free to email me at email@example.com with any questions. You may click HERE to donate or contact Assistant Coach Chad Balyo at 937-405-9116 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
With kind regards,
Chris Borch is a 1978 graduate of Furman University and the founder and CEO of a publicly-held manufacturing company. He and his wife, Andrea, live in California and have four children.