Grace Place founder pleased with recent fundraiser’s turnout
By Jacob Belgumjbelgum@wctrib.com SPICER -- Grace Place founder Jane Vikse said last weekend's "Ninja Warrior" event was a success, despite not meeting the lofty goal for number of competitors. Vikse estimated that the event drew more than 1,000 ...
By Jacob Belgum
SPICER - Grace Place founder Jane Vikse said last weekend’s “Ninja Warrior” event was a success, despite not meeting the lofty goal for number of competitors.
Vikse estimated that the event drew more than 1,000 spectators Saturday and another 300 to 400 Sunday. While the number of competitors - around 50 - fell far short of Grace Place’s goal of 350, Vikse expects that the number will triple next year.
“This was the first year, people didn’t know what to expect,” Vikse said. “I heard a lot of people going ‘next year, I’m doing this.’ That’s all we’ve heard.”
Vikse hoped the fundraiser would generate $145,000 for Grace Place and has yet to calculate how much it actually raised.
The number of participants was small, but the athletes’ performances were not. Many people finished the obstacle course. Kevin Hogan, or as he is known on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior,” “The Taxinator,” easily zipped through his exhibition run. Among more amateur performers, Raymond’s Caleb Zimmer flew through the course the fastest, finishing it in 42 seconds.
“He’s like a maniac,” Vikse said of Zimmer. “It was amazing.”
The turnout convinced Vikse that buying the equipment had been the right decision and that this would become an annual summer event.
“At one point, that (Saulsbury Beach) park, for hours, was full,” Vikse said. “Overall, we were just absolutely thrilled.”
Hogan, a tax accountant from St. Michael, finished the course in less than 30 seconds. He competed in the Kansas City regional of “American Ninja Warrior” earlier this year and should appear on the show next month. He also operates a ninja warrior training facility in Buffalo, which can be found on Facebook at “Ninjas United.”
He would like to use Grace Place’s equipment so that he can run similar events in the metro area. Those events would be put on in conjunction with Grace Place.
“There would be a lot of people who would show up,” said Hogan, noting the greater population in the metro. “In my opinion, depending on how it’s presented and what the price range is, I think you could easily triple the amount of people who show up.”
Two out-of-state renters are also considering using the course. The process of shipping it, setting it up and insuring it are making a transaction difficult, though. Nonetheless, Vikse hopes to figure out the logistics.
“If we could rent it out four times a year, that’s great income for Grace Place,” Vikse said.