Matthew Stallings is running one of the nation’s most challenging races to support his students. The Boise State University professor wants the community to see how hard he’s working to aid disadvantaged students, and inspire others to take action.
When he decided to run an ultramarathon, Stallings wanted it to mean something beyond himself. So he contacted Boise State’s College of Business and Economics Dean Mark Bannister and asked how he could use the race to help his students.
“During COVID he saw a lot of students who were … struggling financially,” said Stallings. “He thought it might be nice if we had our own fund in the College of Business, an endowed fund, to help students during those difficult times.”
So, Stallings took on a $25,000 goal to create the COBE Student Hardship Fund, which could be accessed by students in times of financial distress. The professor posted a fundraiser on PonyUp, Boise State’s crowdfunding website. Since May he’s raised $4,572, nearly 20% of the goal.
Coleman Benson, one of Stallings’ former students, found the fundraiser on LinkedIn. From the dedication he saw in Stallings as a professor, Benson wasn’t surprised by the project.
“Matt’s kind of an extreme athlete,” said Benson. “I think it was really brilliant of him to use something that he’s passionate about and fuse it with something else that he’s passionate about, helping his students. When I saw that, I couldn’t get it spread around my network fast enough, and I donated myself.”
The 30-hour, 100-mile race is considered one of the most grueling. Spanning 28,000 feet of elevation change, the race can cause hypothermia, hallucinations and stress fractures.
“When I’m out training I’m thinking about this constantly. I’m thinking about the students,” said Stallings. “What would be awesome to me is if we reached the goal around the same time that I reached the finish line. When you reach the finish line…you’ve left it all out there. I want to feel the same with the fundraiser.”
Bannister also donated to the cause.
“Matthew Stallings is a Boise State University professor who is truly dedicated to students,” said the dean. “I love this project and the idea that Matthew will push himself though an ultramarathon to raise funds to help students.”
If established, the COBE Student Hardship Fund would provide “financial assistance to students who are in danger from withdrawing during a semester due to unanticipated, temporary financial hardships resulting from emergency or crisis situations,” according to Bannister. The money would be paid out in one-time grants, typically no more than $500. The recipient would not need to pay back the money.
There is no minimum donation for the fundraiser, which ends November 13, a week after the race. Though Stallings has five years to raise the money, Boise State rules state that the fund cannot be used until the $25,000 minimum has been met. The professor hopes to make the fund available to students as soon as possible. If the goal isn’t met within five years, the money will be reassigned by the BSU Foundation to go to a similar cause, according to the dean.
Stallings emphasized his belief that the fund is more than a donation, it’s an investment in the community.
“(Students) are going to be working in the community, providing money through different channels,” said Stallings. “These are our people. It makes sense to help our people that are going to give back…other ways when they get out of school. That’s how a community builds, that’s how a community thrives.”
To hear Stallings’ story, watch him train and donate to his cause, click here.