Iowa State’s Morgan Kane to host a virtual 5k fundraiser Sunday

Iowa State women’s basketball sophomore forward Morgan Kane (pictured left) holding a proceeds benefit sign with fellow Pawsitive Pawsibilities co-founder Tabitha Bell (pictured right).

Sam Stuve

Iowa State women’s basketball sophomore player Morgan Kane is putting on the Super Paws 5K Virtual Run on Sunday in a fundraiser for Pawsitive Pawsibilities.

At least every dollar she makes off the charity event will be headed in that direction.

Pawsitive Possibilities, the nonprofit organization Kane and her friend Tabitha Bell started in 2013 in Utah, has raised more than $250,000, which has come from fundraising and donations (by private donors) as the organization’s website says, “As our organization is entirely donations based, any help is much appreciated and is tax-deductible. 100% of donations are set aside for the purchase of service dogs; all legal and promotional costs will be covered personally.”

According to Kane and the event notes for the virtual 5k, this has allowed them to purchase and place more than 12 service dogs to people who needed them.

The event notes say the price for purchasing a service dog cost between $10,000 and $25,000.

In addition to this, Bell said in a phone interview, “A lot of people who need services can’t afford one cause they are not covered under insurance.”

Kane talked about how her and Bell started this nonprofit organization. 

“I love helping people,” Kane said. “Giving back to the community is very important to me, and this is something that I’ve wanted to do. We started this back in eighth grade. It’s just grown from there.”

Bell and Kane met when Kane was in eighth grade when Bell, who has muscular dystrophy, moved to the school Kane was attending in Salt Lake City. Kane was showing Bell and her service dog, a German shepherd named Sunny, around the school.

According to Kane, they became friends and eventually started Pawsitive Pawsibilities that same school year (2013-2014) after Bell thought of the idea and came to Kane with it. Since the start, their goal has been to raise money for people and families who need a service dog but may not be able to afford one.

This was done even though they went to different high schools in the Salt Lake City area (Bell was at the Waterford School in Sandy, Utah, and Kane attended Riverton High School in West Jordan, Utah). 

For people and families who need service dogs, having one is very important.

Under the About Us tab on the Pawsitive Pawsibilities website, Bell told her story and why she needs a service dog.

“Since my diagnosis in fourth grade, I have struggled endlessly with physically getting around school and my home. After eight surgeries on both legs and my spine, I was unable to get around my large campus and began to study at home. I missed my interactive academic life and daily encounters with my friends, but was forced to remain home because of my severe balance and strength deficits in my legs and core.”

“All of this changed when my parents purchased my trained service dog Sunny. Sunny was a beautiful, shy, two year old German Shepherd. We immediately bonded. Sunny was trained to support me while I walk, pick anything I drop up off the ground and run messages for me around my school and home. He was amazing. After several months of training together, Sunny and I were a team. I entered the eighth grade at the Waterford School in Sandy, with Sunny by my side. We both thrived at school, I quickly made friends who all loved Sunny, and he rapidly adjusted to the routine of school, walking down school hallways as if he owned them.”

Bell said if she didn’t have a service dog, she would need to be in a wheelchair.

In the event notes, it says, “There are many different types of service dogs such as wheelchair assistance, balance and brace, and sight and seeing, to name a few. Even though many people may not realize the importance, service dogs have the amazing opportunity to change someone’s life for the better and open up new opportunities for mobility that previously remained closed.”

Kane and Bell are now in separate states (Kane at Iowa State and Bell at University of California, Berkeley). With Kane and Bell in separate states, they planned to continue this effort.

“We have decided to do intercollegiate fundraisers,” Bell said in a phone interview. 

This and with the 5k being done virtually, has led to many different colleges and people from across the country joining in and spreading the Pawsitive Pawsibilities message.

“I wanted to bring this with me to college and get the community involved because Ames’ community is so amazing,” Kane said. “They show a lot of support for us as a team and I know they’ll show support for this as well.”

This year, the virtual 5k run will begin at 8 a.m. Sunday. It was originally scheduled for April 26 at Ada Hayden Park in Ames, but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I postponed it to September, but it was still going to be in person,” Kane said in a phone interview. “Then, a couple of months ago, I realized it wouldn’t be the safest or the best situation to have it in person, so I made the decision to make it a virtual race.”

According to event notes, a T-shirt will be mailed before the race to those who have registered. After they complete their run, participants are asked to record their time and email a picture of themselves with their time and a photo of them in their shirt after the run is completed.

There are 16 age groups for the event, including 8 and under (male and female), 9 to 14 (male and female), 15 to 19 (male and female), 20 to 29 (male and female), 30 to 39 (male and female), 40 to 49 (male and female), 50 to 59 (male and female) and 60 and older (male and female).

The cost to register is $25 per entry. Registration for the 5k ends at 11:59 p.m. Central Standard Time Saturday. Individuals can register by themselves or with a team on this website.

Kane said they have at least 140 runners, which would come out to $3,500, but both those numbers could be higher.

Kane also said having the race virtually is helping them because people from outside of Iowa can now participate.

“We have people running from Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Utah, California, Arizona… so through the pandemic we were able to make it a positive and get even more people to participate and become unified together in this cause and raising money for Pawsitive Pawsibilities,” Kane said.

With Kane being a women’s basketball player, she has had the opportunity to reach out to other women’s basketball teams at universities to spread awareness for the cause.

She said other universities have agreed to participate in the 5k and spread awareness for the cause.

“They’ve agreed to take part in the race to raise awareness as well,” Kane said. “It’s so heartwarming to see how the Ames community and other communities have come together.”

To Iowa State women’s basketball Head Coach Bill Fennelly, Kane’s nonprofit is a way players can leave a profound effect on the Ames community.

“Our program has always been about being involved in the community,” Fennelly said. “Morgan’s nonprofit is another example of how our players can have such a positive impact on those who are not as lucky as we are in so many ways. We talk every day about how do you impact success and this is a great way for our team to have an impact beyond the court.”

Kane said her teammates at Iowa State are registering as a team. 

“My teammates and coaches have done a great job of being very supportive with the 5k, helping it grow, develop and be known to the people of the Ames community,” Kane said.

Organizing a 5k is not an easy thing to do. It merely is not a one-person job. 

Because of this, Kane has been spreading the word of this event with the help of her coaches and teammates, mainly through flyers and word-of-mouth. 

Kane’s teammates and coaches have promoted the 5k via social media, which Kane said has led to more awareness about the Pawsitive Pawsibilities mission. 

She also said she has had to network within the Ames community to spread awareness for the event and the cause itself.

“My parents have been a huge help in organizing it, I’ve talked with Lyndsey Fennelly and Deb Fennelly because they’re such amazing contributors in the community,” Kane said. “They’ve been helpful in giving me names and contacts that I otherwise wouldn’t have known of. Having Pawsitive Pawsibilities not as known in Ames as much in Utah, I’ve been going door to door to companies to tell them about the cause of Pawsitive Pawsibilities and to get the word out about this (the 5k).”

For Kane and Bell, every time they help a person who needs a service dog, it makes her want to help and give back even more.

“Every time we’re able to make a placement with a dog and a person, see that connection and change their life to enable them to do things that they weren’t able to do before … it makes me want to do more, help more, educate the community, so that way more people can see the impact and the benefits of having a service dog,” Kane said.

Since its founding in 2014, Pawsitive Pawsibilities has hosted events similar to this upcoming 5k.

The first was Sunny’s Spring Sing Benefit Concert in Sandy, Utah, in 2017, which raised $4,000 and the other one was the Super Paws 5k in 2017 in Sandy, Utah, which raised $6,000. 

Since working with Pawsitive Pawsibilities, Kane has had the opportunity to give back to the community, something she has wanted to do since she was 13 years old. 

“I really love helping people and giving back to the community,” Kane said in February. “Giving back to the community is very important to me and this is something that I’ve really wanted to do. We started this back in eighth grade, it’s really just grown from there.”

The efforts of the Pawsitive Pawsibilities nonprofit organization has not gone unnoticed, as organizations that honor young leaders who make an impact in the community have given Bell, who is the executive director of Pawsitive Pawsibilities, awards for the organization’s work.

This includes the 2018 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes.

Since going to college, both Bell and Kane have been continuing their work for this cause.

Bell has talked about expanding the availability of service dogs for students at UC Berkeley. She has also advocated for the needs of people who are disabled and for the need for service dogs.

She said through word-of-mouth (as well as through social media) and with having her service dog who lives with her at UC Berkeley, Nox, she has been able to spread awareness for her nonprofit organization. 

Bell has previously talked about having a Super Paws 5k in Berkeley, California. 

Kane said this year might not be the only opportunity for the Ames community to participate in a 5k like this.

“I am planning on continuing this because I’ve seen so much support from the Ames community and I’m so passionate about Pawsitive Pawsibilities that I would like to continue this, improve it in different ways to reach different people and to involve the community,” Kane said. “I love to see the involvement of the Ames community, they are the greatest fans in the country, they’re such a tight-knit community and they’ve come together.” 

In regards to Sunday’s event, Fennelly said, “Our entire team and staff will be there (virtually) and I hope Cyclone Nation will join us.”

For more information on how to donate to Pawsitive Pawsibilities, you can click here.