Community steps up for local legend Bruce MacDonald: After devastating fire, fundraiser helps get Coach Mac back on his feet

Eric Fishbin and Andrew Kerr

Three-time Olympian runner and varsity track coach Bruce MacDonald was rescued from his smoldering home on Jan. 6.

To support Coach MacDonald, a former race walker of his and long-time competitor, Loretta Schuellein McGovern, along with her husband Dave McGovern, began a GoFundMe Fire Fund.

“Coach Mac has done so much for me.  He has given me the best advice, trained me in a sport that I love, and helped me achieve many lofty goals.  He doesn’t just help me though.  He has helped young athletes for about 60 years.  He never takes anything in return.  This is the first time he has really needed anything, and he never even asked. He didn’t have to.  We are all ready to give back to a man that has given us so much.  I didn’t start a campaign alone though. The amount of people that are working behind the scenes is awe-inspiring,” said Mrs. McGovern.

On the GoFundMe Fire Fund for Coach MacDonald, over $25,000 was raised in a single day.  In three days, the original goal of $50,000 was met.  However, the goal of $50,000 was increased to $100,000 soon after.

It was listed at $50,000 because Coach MacDonald was a 50k race walker, and since it was difficult for those who organized the fundraiser to predict how much was needed, this was the starting goal.  The real goal is to get Coach MacDonald back into safe housing.

“50k isn’t enough for housing, so we need to keep elevating the goal.  When he has moved into safe housing and can sit down and relax, before he heads out the door for track practice, then we will have met our goal,” said McGovern.

Some notable donations include a $1,000 donation from USATF Long Island Race Walking, and an anonymous donor contributing $10,000.

Coach MacDonald has served as an inspiration to countless Schreiber students, current and graduated, over the course of decades.

Coach MacDonald began both the girls and boys cross country teams, along with the indoor track teams.

In addition, Coach MacDonald started the girls outdoor track team.  Next, MacDonald took these programs to the middle school level.

“Coach Mac always encourages us to do the best we can.  He shares his stories about his success, as well as what he had to do to get there in order to inspire us to be the best people and athletes we can be.  Without Coach Mac, a lot of the girls and boys on the track and field teams wouldn’t be involved with the sport or event they now compete in regularly.  Personally, I wouldn’t be where I am today with track and field if it weren’t for him,” said senior captain Erin McDonough.

Not only has Coach MacDonald served as an inspiration to Schreiber’s track and field athletes, but across Long Island as well.  Each year, Schreiber hosts the Bruce MacDonald Invitational at Sands Point Preserve.

Additionally, a fundraiser was held at the HUB in Syosset on Martin Luther King Day.

“Coach Mac represents pure determination.  Not everyone has the privilege to be coached by him but his presence is a true testament to the hard work it takes to be successful.  We are all grateful for what he does for the program and the effort he puts in,” said junior captain Andrew Adelhardt.

Along with the Martin Luther King Day fundraiser, an ongoing clothing drive has been activated for Coach MacDonald.  Because of the fire, Coach MacDonald lost everything in his home including clothes.  The purpose of the drive is to get Coach MacDonald’s life back to way it was.

Having had such a significant impact on the lives of countless students and learners of race walking, it is no surprise how such immediate support has surrounded Coach MacDonald.

It has been 16 days since the fire, and in that time over $16,000 has been raised along with clothing and other materials.

Also, over 500 donors have shown support for MacDonald on the GoFundMe fundraiser.

On Jan. 13 the people who started the fundraiser, the McGoverns, posted an update from Coach MacDonald himself.  The note said

“Bruce wishes to extend his heartfelt thanks to all who have donated, shared on social media, sent kind notes, and donated clothing.  Bruce was hoping to send a handwritten note to each and every one of his supporters, but that was when those supporters numbered in the dozens, rather than the many hundreds who have subsequently reached out!  We are all overwhelmed—though not surprised—by your love.  Bruce is comfortable for now at his step-daughter’s house and looks forward to returning to the track shortly. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”