Even small gifts change lives

Pay It Forward

Why One Employee Makes Fargo Marathon Volunteering a Tradition

Sometimes they’re laughing, sometimes they’re crying; sometimes the racers are even dressed in tutus as they cross the Fargo Marathon finish line. But one thing many seem to have in common is the gratitude they feel as they finish the race.

Jeff Folz, a banker in Bell Bank’s Dilworth, Minn., location, has seen some incredible finishes in the 8 years he’s been volunteering at the Fargo Marathon.

From marriage proposals that leave the crowd and runners breathless to racers leaping across the finish line dressed as heroes, villains – even Elvis – the event has left a lasting impression.

“The most fulfilling part of being a volunteer is seeing the racers’ gratitude as they cross the finish line. They’re so thankful for the sponsorship,” Jeff notes. “They’re laughing, crying, hugging and sweating. I haven’t seen any crabby finishers yet.”

When Jeff first signed up to volunteer for the Fargo Marathon in 2010, it was a matter of convenience. Having just started as a customer service representative at Bell, Jeff was looking for a way to spend his 16 work-sponsored volunteer hours.

When the email came through looking for marathon volunteers, Jeff quickly signed up to greet runners at the finish line with a much-deserved bottle of water. But almost immediately, he wondered how likely it would be for his managers to approve a Saturday off to volunteer. (After all, Saturdays are an integral part of retail banking.)

Much to his surprise, Jeff’s managers were all on board.

“All my managers have just been great,” he says. “They always rearrange schedules so I’m able to volunteer that day. There’s never been pushback over it.”

With thousands of people competing in the Fargo Marathon each year – more than 19,000 competed in 2018 alone – many volunteers are needed on the sidelines for support.

As a finish-line sponsor since the event began 14 years ago, Bell has provided many of those volunteers. Jeff is thankful Bell gives him an opportunity to volunteer without requiring him to take a day off of work to do it.

“Bell not only supports employees volunteering in the community, the company encourages it,” Jeff comments. “I hope we can keep this up for years to come.”

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