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'Run to Rebuild' Raises Funds for Disaster Relief


Rebuilding life after the 2016 West Virginia Flood can be a journey. To help raise funds to rebuild, Jim Smucker ran his own journey: 260 miles across Ohio. Smucker started on September 5, 2020 and ran from Cleveland to Cincinnati, saving the last ten miles to finish on Saturday, September 12, on the Holmes Country trail, in Millersburg. 

Jim and Anna - race finish








Smucker is the President of Keim, a lumber, home and hardware store that is in the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country. Keim is partnering with Disaster Aid Ohio and Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) to build a home for a deserving family who is not eligible for government funding to replace their house. 

“It’s hard to believe that four years after the flood, thousands of homes have yet to be rebuilt,” said Smucker. “During the recent ‘Stay-at-Home’ order, our houses took on a new level of importance. Our hope is to bring that safety and security to other families.” Keim has raised $60,000 already but is still in need of $20,000 in cash or in-kind donation. 

MDS is a volunteer network of Anabaptist churches that responds to people affected by disasters in the United States and Canada. For nearly 70 years, they built and repaired tens of thousands of houses in North America. Disaster Aid Ohio is the local Amish affiliate of MDS, and recently finished a home for Billie Paxton, a survivor of the 2016 West Virginia Floods. 

When Billie Paxton returned from work the rain had started, and the water was rising. In the next one and a half hours, 9.5 inches of rain fell. She took off her shoes and waded in. Later that day, the water rose so high that it reached the peak of the roof of her house. The home that had seen both celebration and sorrow was ruined.  

Covid-19 has changed the way people think of “home,” and how homes are built. In the past, construction volunteers have traveled to the site where MDS was building the home. But due to concerns of Covid-19, that is no longer possible. Instead, Disaster Aid Ohio, MDS, are launching a pilot concept: local volunteers will gather to build modular homes, built remotely, and delivered to wherever “home” might be. Going forward, MDS will scale this idea in communities across the country.  

Read Smucker’s blog to learn more about his run, and  donate to the cause to help rebuild a home.