Runners and volunteers from across the US help give Joplin economic boost


JOPLIN, Mo. – After almost a four hour dive to Joplin, Julie Malter was ready to get to work.

“I feel like this is my way of helping,” says Malter.

She lives in the northern part of the state, around an hour northwest of Columbia. Every single year she comes to Joplin, not to run, but to volunteer in any way she can.

“Now ten years ago I was on vacation in the Virgin Island for my sister’s 50th birthday and I was with some of her friends who were from Carthage and Joplin,” explains Malter. “And we found out about the tornado, and phone calls home said, ‘Stay where you are. You’ll just be in the way.'”

So she says volunteering at the run gives her a way to help the community when she couldn’t ten years go.

“It fills that hole that I feel for not being able to help… being able to help then,” says Malter.

Roughly three hundred volunteers from across the country are playing vital rolls in the continuation of the Joplin Memorial Run, each with their own reason for doing so. Their hard work will help more than two thousand runners — also from across the country — honor the lives that were lost in 2011.

“We do have runners coming from 26 states. Over half the nation is gonna be represented there,” says Bob Brown, one of the organizers for the annual event.

In addition to being a dedication to the lives lost, the run serves as a fundraiser — benefiting organizations that played a vital roll in Joplin’s recovery. Since 2012, more than 250-thousand dollars has been donated — all coming from the memorial run.

“You know, we know we’re doing something right. And Joplin’s doing something right,” says Brown.

And while it’s not the focus of the event, the number of volunteers and runners coming into Joplin for the weekend will have a big impact on almost every industry in the city.

“It’ll have an impact across all the levels of taxation that support the city. From tourism, to gas, to food, to everything. So, it’s a positive,” says Patrick Tuttle, Director of the Joplin Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. “I mean, whenever you put on an event that attracts people from outside the community, that’s always the return you want to have happen.”

That revenue can continue to help the city and community move forward — even though everyone knows the memorial run and anniversary are so much more than that.

“I think we’re gonna see more people come back because they were part of the recovery. They may have been here in the first months or the first year of recovery, and they’re coming back to see how well Joplin has done over the last ten years,” says Tuttle. “That’s the reward.”