Community support is alive and well in Belleville, Illinois. Eight runners from the Belleville Running Club recently took on a challenge to run at least 1 mile in each hour for 24 consecutive hours and sought out sponsorships in the form of at least a $10 donation to a local food pantry or a purchase of a gift card to a local business for each hour they ran.

The community support was more than overwhelming, according to the club, with at least 140 pledges, almost exclusively for Belleville businesses and food pantries. Gift card purchases were to be used by the purchasers.

Runners included Belleville Running Club president Dan Trapp, Belleville Main Street Marathon co-race director Sarah West, Belleville business owner (Circa Boutique and Gifts) Andria Powell as well as Pete Trapp, Mackenzie Nichols, Tracy and Steve Cooper, and Andrea Decker. In total, the runners ran at least 240 miles in the 24-hour span that started at 6 p.m. Friday, April 17, and ending at 5 p.m., April 18.

“We were blown away by the amount of support we received,” said West. “I think all of us were just hoping to at least fill each of the 24 hour slots, but the community surpassed that, almost doubling the slots filled. Just wow! It really is another reminder of what a great community we have.”

West added: “Having that support kept us going. The challenge got pretty tough in the wee hours of the night/morning and toward the end, but our sponsors also were providing words of encouragement, and that really helped.”

Although the Belleville Running Club did not organize this particular challenge (it originated from a contact in Colorado), it has hosted two scavenger hunt-type challenges for its members and purchased gift cards from local businesses as prizes. The running club plans to offer more challenges to help motivate its members and anyone in the local community to keep moving during this time and to support local businesses through gift card purchases for prizes.