The Indiana Bicentennial torch will pass through Culver on Tuesday, Oct. 4, and four members of the Culver Academies community have been selected as torchbearers by the bicentennial commission.
Two staff members, Dana Neer and Jeff Kenney, were nominated by people in the Culver community while students Ben Snyder ’17 (Carmel, Ind.) and Claire Martinez ’17 (Lowell, Ind.) were selected after writing an essay detailing why they are proud to be Hoosiers. The Writing Center sponsored the essay competition on campus.
The Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay started Sept. 9 in Corydon, the state’s first capital, and will culminate on the Statehouse Grounds in Indianapolis on Oct. 15. It will cover 3,200 miles and pass through all 92 counties. It will come to Marshall County from approximately 3 to 7 p.m., Oct. 4. Neer, Kenney, and Snyder will carry the torch and Martinez will serve as an alternate.
In his essay, Snyder said his pride in being a Hoosier “is not derived from an individual experience, but the experiences that all Hoosiers share. The extremes between winter and summer has instilled in every Hoosier “an integral value, grit. Grit is the strength of the Hoosier.”
While people in the state will often disagree, sometimes heatedly so, Hoosiers are unified in their common experiences and that “is what makes the Hoosier state so strong. It is a place that does not fear the cold of winter or the heat of summer, but is always striving to use elements of both to build a greater people.”
Martinez talked about “some of the happiest moments of my life” being spent around a campfire in Indiana’s state parks. Going to the different nature centers, meeting people from across the country, and learning “about the different places I am in.”
I was able to be with people I love, in a state that I love, creating memories that will last a lifetime
She enjoys camping in state parks because “it allows me to take in all of God’s creation around me, and makes me better appreciate the little things in life, like where I am from.” Martinez added she recently realized the best part of camping in a state park “was that I was able to be with people I love, in a state that I love, creating memories that will last a lifetime.”
Jeff Kenney is being honored for his work in preserving the history of Culver and Culver Academies. With Culver roots that can be traced back to 1836, Kenney has spent several years working on establishing the Museum of Culver and Lake Maxinkuckee; tracing the Culver connections of such Indiana personalities as Kurt Vonnegut, Booth Tarkington, Gen. Lew Wallace, and Cole Porter; and preserving the history of the black community in Culver.
He has served as the curator at the Culver Academies Museum & Gift Shop, leading the transition of over 100,000 publications from print to digital images. He also presents programs to Culver alumni, leads walking tours, and writes on historical events for The Academies.
Joining Culver Academies in 2008, Dana Neer is the Director of the Fitness Center, and serves as an assistant cross country/track and field coach. He serves as the director of the Culver Distance Camp, which is rated as one of the top running camps in the country.
Neer worked to establish the Lake Max Triathlon and Max Move, and he has been significant in providing faculty, staff and students programs that measure improvement in health and fitness. He is also involved with the Culver Lions Club, Kiwanis Club of Culver, and is presently the president of the Culver Boys and Girls Club.
The relay was designed to inspire Hoosiers and promote unity across the state by connecting people, communities, and regions. Torch bearers will be walking, running, or employing different modes of transportation that are representative of Indiana culture and heritage.
The torch will be accompanied by a caravan that includes the Indiana Bicentennial Experience, a museum on wheels that celebrates the history and culture of the Hoosier State.
Photo: Jeff Kenney (left), Claire Martinez, Ben Snyder, and Dana Neer