17-year-old Ian Montgomery, born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, always grew up surrounded by hockey. He learned about the sport when he attended his first Blue Jackets game in elementary school. From the aroma of the arena’s concession stands, and the iconic “boom” screaming out of the cannon used every Blue Jackets home game, Ian instantly became hooked to the game of hockey.
His connection to hockey became deeper when he decided to give back to the community in 7th grade. Ian learned about the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation — which is associated with the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team that gives back to the community. What sparked his attention in particular, was their pediatric cancer program. His Grandma and Aunt passed away from cancer during Ian’s early childhood and he was instantly able to appreciate the work the foundation does. Within time, he formulated a plan to raise money for the foundation — a charity race. The plan, of course, did not come overnight; he talked to his parents as well as peers about the idea of giving back. Within time, the two-mile run, known as The Frozen Banana Race, became official.
The whole idea made sense to Ian. In addition to following the game of hockey, he also was involved in his school’s cross country team. It connected his appreciation of hockey, running, and awareness of cancer. The Frozen Banana Race got its wacky name largely because he wanted to pay homage to his Nana—a nickname Ian’s family gave to his grandma. The first thought that came to mind was to use a word that rhymes with his Nana; however, the most popular among both him and his family members was the word “banana”. Still not satisfied with the name of the event, he decided adding the word “frozen” would further establish the identity of his winter run. Everything was intact except the race itself. Fortunately, he knew an owner of a local running company to assist him. The Columbus Running Company is a business that is profoundly involved with races in central Ohio. Ian was able to receive guidance from the owner: who also happens to be a Blue Jackets fanatic. After meeting with the company, he had access to their tools and expertise which helped make the event a success.
With these plans, the race was underway. He typed up an email that consisted of all the details in relation to the race and sent it to his closest acquaintances. The mantra throughout the process was to raise funds for the foundation no matter the total amount raised. There was no goal per se, but he was content with however much was donated by the conclusion of the event. The end result was beyond imagination; the race generated a sum of over $2,000 all for the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation. It was beyond comprehension for the then 13-year-old middle school student.
The satisfaction of not only the participants but also of the foundation motivated Ian to continue the race beyond a year. In the years since publicity spread throughout the community. The Frozen Banana Race started with close to 20 participants and this past year sparked nearly ten times the amount getting close to 200. In that time, over $30,000 has been raised in proceeds for the foundation.