Zionsville student runs first marathon, raises money for local organizations


Zionsville Community High School senior Ben Bumgarner recently completed his first marathon while raising funds for Special Olympics of Boone County and the Zionsville Unified Track team. He raised $3,200 for the organizations.

The Blue Sky Trail Marathon took place Oct. 21 in Fort Collins, Colo. Bumgarner ran the race with his father, Jonathan Bumgarner.

CIZ 1219 COM Bumgarner3
Ben Bumgarner and his father Jonathan Bumgarner competing in the Blue Sky Trail Marathon Oct. 21 in Fort Collins, Colo.

“We chose the Colorado race because we were looking for a trail marathon in an interesting location scheduled during our school’s fall break,” Jonathan said. “I have run several marathons, but this was Ben’s first. I am very proud of him.”

Ben said he got the idea to raise money for nonprofits after his dad wanted to run a marathon with him.

“I figured I could use this as an opportunity to do good and make a difference,” Ben said. “I don’t have much running experience, but I played sports growing up and am athletic. I’ve never run a race before, so I went through my dad’s training regimen from about halfway through summer into fall.”

Ben and his parents started a GoFundMe, posted it on social media and shared it with friends.

“I was trying to get as many high schoolers involved and get them to donate,” Ben said. “I shared it on my Snapchat and Instagram and sent it out in group chats and text messages.”

CIZ 1219 COM Bumgarner2
(From left) Zionsville Unified Track Head Coach Spencer Cassin, left, and Ben Bumgarner

Ben was formerly a partner athlete for Zionsville’s Unified Track team, which “provides a quality experience of sports training and competition” for students with or without intellectual disabilities, so he chose to raise money for the team.

“One of my friends actually introduced me and asked if I wanted to join the Unified Track team with him,” Ben said. “As a partner athlete, it was our job to be a model to the special athletes, help them and show them what they need to do, along with being a teammate and supporting them.”

Ben said he donated the other half of the money he raised to Special Olympics of Boone County, which “provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities,” because he wanted to make a difference in his community.

Ben presented the check to Special Olympics of Boone County Nov. 28 and to the Zionsville Unified Track team coach, Spencer Cassin, Dec. 5.

“It made me feel happy and a little bit emotional because I could just tell how appreciative everyone was,” Ben said. “When I presented the check to the Special Olympics of Boone County, they brought some of their athletes, which I thought was nice because I could see the excitement on their faces. I could tell I was making a difference. It’s just a good feeling overall.”

Ben wants to continue working with athletes with intellectual disabilities.

“I don’t have a specific plan at the moment, but it was a rewarding experience, and I see myself doing something similar in the future,” he said.