It all started with a few Bulldogs
It was the first meeting to establish Gary Cares; 2010 at Who's? Place, Gary, MN. What started as a one time project turned into a way to make a lasting difference in the community. Pictured, back, from left: Buck Engen, Elwood Narum, Bryan Thronson, Alden AndersonFront: Diane Swenson-Littlefield, Karie Kirschbaum and Audrey Felske
The Bulldog Connection
At the 2010 Gary Days celebration, the Gary Bulldog class of 1950 held it’s 60th anniversary. The event was organized by Bulldog alumni Elwood E. Narum. As the class tried to enter the old Gary High entrance, a Bulldog class of 1981 alumni Karie Whitson Kirschbaum saw they were at the wrong entrance and introduced herself to help them get to the right entrance. A forever friendship was formed.
Times change, but Bulldogs don't - its about community
Soon Narum, always a leader, asked if there would be a 125 year celebration and an all-school reunion the following year to commemorate Gary’s anniversary. He also suggested funds should be raised to benefit the Gary, MN community. Bulldog Alumni Audrey Felske was consulted and soon was part of the organizing group. As momentum grew, other alumni and former staff became involved with the project such as Alden A. Anderson, Diane Swenson-Littlefield, Buck Engen, Bryan Thronson and others to get the event going.
Honoring where we came from and helping the next generation move forward is part of our heritage
The 125th Anniversary of Gary, Gary Days and a Bulldog All-School reunion was held in June 2011. It was the start of Gary Cares.
To raise funds, a 501(c)(3) non-profit group, Gary Cares, was formed link; Narum was happy to put it together to benefit his hometown. At Gary Days in 2011, over 750 alumni attended events at the Gary gym, class reunions, the parade and other Gary Days festivities. Over $10,000 was raised for the school and the Gary fire hall. A beautiful new city sign was put up on the corner of Hwy 32 & 19 and banners boasting names of former and present families or businesses went up throughout the town.
The sisters, in-laws, nieces and extended family are pictured at the dedication of the Elwood E. Narum Recreation Park during Gary Days in June of 2016.
Narum remained the president of Gary Cares until his death July 6, 2015 (link for obit). Unfortunately he never saw the completion of the Elwood E. Narum Recreation Park (old tennis court) which includes a full court basketball facility, benches and more. It was dedicated at Gary Days 2016. And, as a final act for his home town, he left almost $30,000 to the Gary Fire Department to complete the purchase of the new building. His legacy and that of other Gary Alumni is one that lives past a lifetime, it speaks into the future of small towns in rural Minnesota.
As of 2019, Gary Cares expanded and manages tax deductable donations for special projects or to the Gary Cares organization from alumni and residents, the Norman County One Fund Drive link, Shock & Awe Youth Philanthropy Link, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library project for Norman County, Gary Cares Murder Mystery Dinner Theater link, tax deductable donations for the Gary Community Club link, the Gary Pines Project link, the Gary Fire Department and grants for other area clubs and organizations as needed.