“What does Ogden need?”
A voice. A friend. An advocate. Patience. Some luck. And, apparently? A Marathon.
You most likely know Jeff Furton, and even if you don’t, Jeff would count you as a friend. Spending a few minutes in Jeff’s company, it’s clear that’s how he sees everyone – as friends. Furton, often seen sporting a big straw hat Saturday mornings at the Farmer’s Market, and his wife, Beth, are Ogden community staples. Part of that is due to their popular coffee shop, The Daily Rise (try their Ethiopian Blend – it’s my favorite!), and part of that is due a non-profit known as The GOAL Foundation and an infamous event we all know as the Ogden Marathon.
Ogden might be the highlight of the Northern Wasatch Front now and a destination spot for those who love being outdoors, but fifteen years ago, when Furton landed here, it had all the outdoor attractions, but no love; not even from most who lived here. Historic 25th Street, now a popular place to gather, was a place to avoid while Washington Boulevard boasted an empty field where an old mall once stood. It was not the place anyone wanted to be. Except Jeff.
Jeff grew up in a small, tight knit community in Michigan - the type of place where everyone raised everybody else’s kids. That belief in the power of community and the sense of belonging it provides, shaped Furton into who he is today. He could see that Ogden was on the verge of something great and he wanted in. Jeff is, in every way, a practical visionary. He can see the potential of something easily, but alongside the idealist is a man willing to do whatever it takes to see it through to fruition.
It started with a visit to the mayor’s office and a simple question, “What can I do?” The mayor encouraged Jeff to get connected with the GOAL Foundation. There he found others who knew what Ogden could be and believed that events like the marathon would help revitalize the city.
It started small. The first year Jeff volunteered at the finish line. The next year they found a way to connect Daily Rise by providing smoothies to the runner’s Expo the night before. Then for the next few years Jeff and his crew from Daily Rise became the “cocoa and coffee guys” at the end of the marathon. And then? He was asked to join the Board of the GOAL Foundation. They were looking for someone to get a youth program up and running and that would develop the “Kids K,” an all-kids running event, on race day.