Topeka Hometown Hero Gets Award

Suzanne MacDonald, Recipient of Jenny's Heroes Award
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TOPEKA, Kan. - Former talk show host Jenny Jones awarded a Topeka woman through her "Jenny's Heroes" initiative.

Jones surprised Suzanne MacDonald with a call Thursday afternoon to let her know she won a $20,000 grant for the Topeka Women's Correctional Facility.

MacDonald is a volunteer at the facility and started a running club for the inmates in the fall of 2007. She has the help of volunteers Norma Weiser and Carol Hill.

MacDonald requested $20,000 to replace the running track at the facility, which is cracked and dangerous to run on. The track is used by inmates who participate in the "Running Free" program, which meets to run every weekend and participates in 5K races to raise money for local charities. 13 News did a story on the club preparing for the Race Against Breast Cancer 2008.

"We've been talking about the condition of that track ever since we started this running club," said MacDonald. "We've just been fantasizing about how in the world we could raise that kind of money to replace the track."

Jenny Jones answered those prayers and then some. After speaking with MacDonald and the women, Jones decided to throw in another $5,000 to buy the women new running shoes.

The women feel if the track is in better condition, more women will want to joing the running club. "I really think women are going to be attracted to the club," said MacDonald. "And that's our goal really."

Jenny's Heroes awards grants of up to $25,000 to individuals who submit the best ideas for tangible, lasting community projects chosen for their significant long term benefits.

Earlier this month, Jenny's Heroes gave a $25,000 grant to Russ Stewart, maintenance supervisor at St. Mary's Manor. Stewart will use the money to make a home theater for seniors at the Pottawatomie County nursing facility. That story inspired MacDonald to apply for the Jenny's Heroes grant.