New Executive Director Leads the Geist Half Marathon
Writer / Janet C. Striebel . Photographer / Brian Brosmer
You may have heard her name from volunteering at your child’s school for some committee or helping out with the Geist Half & 5K. For anyone whom has already met her, there can be no denying that Aprill Rogers-Shelburne is quite unforgettable.
She is friendly, energetic, bubbly, upbeat, intelligent and feisty in her approach to getting a job well done. She stays incredibly focused to succeed on any project with which she is assigned. Due to her diligent work ethic and astonishing results along the way, she has been asked to serve as the new Executive Director of Geist Half & 5K.
“I am honored that the board believes in my abilities and has chosen me to be the Executive Director,” says Shelburne, who started her new role on October 1.
She is also the school director and volunteer coordinator for the Geist Half & 5K.
Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Shelburne has found Fishers to be her home for 20 years. Shelburne fulfilled her first leadership role for the Hamilton Southeastern PTO when her children were in elementary school and has continued to support the school corporation throughout the years. She was the President of the Fishers High School PTO during its formative years, establishing events such as Annual Chili Dinner, Give Back Program, Fashion Show and several others.
Leaving solid financials and traditions in place at the new high school, Shelburne was asked to join the Hamilton Southeastern Foundation Board where she had great success as chairperson of the Inaugural Mudsock event and the Corporate Dinner. At the end of her service, she was recruited to work with HSSF’s largest single donor, the Geist Half Marathon, Inc.
“I first met Aprill when we worked together on the Hamilton Southeastern Foundation Board,” said Matt Troyer, president of the Geist Half & 5K. “I was very impressed with her ability to turn the Foundation’s vision for a VIP event into a reality in very short order. That led me to ask her to get involved with the Geist Half. She quickly analyzed the difficulties we were having with various facets of our school program, then created and implemented steps to improve the experience for everyone. She has been a tireless leader within the Geist Half ever since.”
When Shelburne started helping with the Geist Half & 5K, she recognized the need for communication enhancement. At that time, only seven of the 20 schools in the HSE district were participating in the events. In a short time she increased the participation among school age children by nearly 60 percent. For example, there were 1,083 students participating in the Geist 5K when she first started in 2010. One year later, student enrollment increased to 1,438. By her third year, the number of students participating increased to 1,695.
When asked how she was able to increase participation, she said it was constant communication among all levels. First, Shelburne visited the superintendents of both the Lawrence and HSE school systems to stress the importance of supporting the Geist Half & 5K since 100 percent of the proceeds of this event go right back to the schools. Incidentally, as of last year, the marathon has donated a total of $300,000 over the last six years, giving $150,000 to each of the school systems. In essence, she wanted to create a trickle-down effect, encouraging better communication and support starting from the top.
Second, Shelburne felt the need to speak up about better support for all volunteers of the Geist Half & 5K. As a result, she spoke to the Board of Directors about exploring new ways of making them feel extra special.
“I wanted the volunteers to know how much we value their work and dedication,” she said. “I wanted to make sure to show that appreciation beyond giving them a free T-shirt.”
And her work for the runners and volunteers hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“Aprill is passionate about helping the Geist Half achieve its mission of promoting health and wellness for the Fishers-Geist area and making this a top tier event for not only the runners but the hundreds of volunteers we need to make it happen,” said David Ayars, Geist Half Marathon board member. “The Geist Half is a great event for this area and would not be possible without resident and volunteer support…and Aprill absolutely gets that.”
In her new role as Executive Director, Shelburne will still continue to be the volunteer coordinator and school director.
“Currently, I’m working with a Chicago-based race team that can help us expand as we grow,” said Shelburne. “They are assisting us with hosting this event with things like logistics, expo, start/finish line and safety … As our numbers continue to grow in the 5K, this event has the potential to be one of the largest 5Ks in Indiana.”
As the Executive Director, Shelburne serves as the communication link between race directors, marketing directors and the Geist Half Marathon Board of Directors.
“It was time that we communicate effectively as there was a gap between these platforms,” she sad. “We needed to fill that spot.”
Training & Mentoring for Geist Half & 5K
Geist Half & 5K has a mission to help promote health and fitness in youth and therefore encourages area schools and youth organizations to develop their own training program by combining a group of kids and adult mentors who would like to participate in either the 5K (more appropriate for the younger and novice runner) or the half marathon (for the older more experienced runner). Although promotion of the training program, registration for the race and race day management is the responsibility of the school, Geist Half & 5K offers guidance and resources to assist with these processes, as well as a training program coordinator to support the school every step of the way.
To begin implementing your own training program, you will need one or more adult training mentors to assist students in their pre-event training, event preparation and race day assistance. Also you will need adult volunteer support to assist with administration and training if needed.
If your school would like to participate or if you would like to volunteer and/or coach/mentor in your child’s school, please contact Shelburne at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
The Geist Half & 5K event is scheduled for Saturday, May 16, 2015. Registration is open as of November 1; schools can now register. Teams are now forming in the fall to run in the spring. Any students from families receiving free/reduced lunches are entitled to run for free.
Go to geisthalf.com to learn more.