Lighthouse donation has Todd Eaton committee on track to meet fundraising goal

The effort to replace the Todd Eaton Memorial Track at Lakewood Elementary School is steps from the finish line thanks to a major fundraiser held last month at Lighthouse Festival Theatre.

The theatre donated the proceeds from November’s 905 Band concert to the Grand Erie school board on behalf of the Back on Track committee, which is raising funds to refinish the well-used community track.

The theatre’s donation totalled over $7,100. When coupled with $6,000 from a silent auction held during the sold-out show and a further donation from a dinner special at David’s Restaurant, the fundraiser went a long way toward meeting the committee’s goal of collecting the final $50,000 of the project’s $250,000 price tag.

Back on Track committee member Simon Joynes said the fundraiser exceeded their hopes.

“I thought we had a shot at bringing in 10 grand, so to get 13 and change was extraordinary. It’s a significant percentage,” he said. “It’s a tribute to this community. Port Dover’s always been really good about that kind of thing. They were with the original Todd Eaton track.”

The Lakewood school community raised $50,000 toward the project over the last few years, with Grand Erie committing the same amount, Joynes explained. The Port Dover Lions pledged another $50,000, which left the committee to raise the remaining $100,000 between last August and this coming February.

“It’s not a big chunk of time and that’s a lot of money, and we’re very, very close to the goal at this point,” Joynes said.

Joynes welcomed the crowd seeing the 905 Band and said he loved feeling the energy and enthusiasm of 350 people gathered together to support the track and enjoy a fun night out at Lighthouse.

“It was a bit of a celebration as well. It was great,” Joynes said.

The Todd Eaton Memorial Track was installed in 1997 and dedicated to the memory of a former Port Dover Composite School student-athlete. After 22 years and millions of kilometres run and walked, the track surface is showing its age and needs to be replaced with a rubberized compound that will endure for decades, Joynes said.

“Technology has come a long way since the original surface, so this one should be certainly more durable and easier to maintain. So hopefully it’ll have a much longer life,” he said.

The track’s foundation needs a bit of repair but is in generally good shape, he added.

Along with students from Lakewood and other elementary schools, the track is a magnet for high school track teams, running clubs, local football and lacrosse leagues, and community members out for a walk or run.

“There’s thousands of citizens of Norfolk that use it,” said Lakewood principal David Van Laecke.

“We’ve had a lot of support from the community for the project, and that certainly was visible in the Lighthouse Festival Theatre event of bringing in the 905 Band. We really appreciate the support throughout the community and we really benefit from Lighthouse Festival Theatre’s partnership with us and this track.”