Fire threatens ‘Eat Dirt Mud Run,’ organizers remain unshaken

Posted at 10:13 PM, Jun 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-16 22:32:12-04

KENTWOOD, Mich. - After a devastating fire, the non-profit group in charge of running the 'Eat Dirt Mud Run' is rising from the ashes.

The faith-based organization, 'Never the Same,' plans on hosting the obstacle course as planned despite Thursday's fire at the business complex at Eastern and 44th in Kentwood.

Broken glass, smokey rooms, and $100,000 worth of damage is all that's left after what investigators are calling a "suspicious fire."

Jeff Eckart, CEO of 'Never the Same,' said he lost priceless mementos in the flames.

"My library was in there," said Eckart. "So, archives from my family and my fathers books, my father isn’t alive any longer. So things like that you can’t replace."

Never the Same is a national ministry helping guide students in their faith, hosting rally events through the summer in New York, Chicago, LA, and everwhere in between. The summer season is a busy one with events in multiple states while juggling the 'Eat Dirt Mud Run.' So Jeff and his team packed up all of their equipment in a van the night before the fire, ready to head to an event in Indiana.

"It was that night they loaded when the fire had occurred," said Eckart. "So any other day throughout the year this would have happened would have completely devastated what we needed for our events. But thankfully our truck was parked back in the parking lot, shielded."

Jeff said he and his team are more ready than ever to hit the road, spreading the gospel to students while hosting one of the most well known mud runs in West Michigan.

"We've been really resolved," said Eckart. "As a ministry we have faith through God and Christ, so for us its been a reminder of why we do what we do. We wanna make kid's lives better around the country."

Formerly known as the 'Grand Rapids Mud Run,' the 'Eat Dirt Mud Run' will still be happening in Grand Rapids and is on schedule for August 29th. More than 7,000 runners have already signed up.

On top of everything, Jeff and his team are launching their new mobile app called 'Claim Your Campus.'

"Our goal in all of this is that God would get the glory for it. We don't make any bones about that and hope this is another way he gets the fame from it. We're just trying to point towards him and pointing students toward him as well."

As for the fire, nobody was hurt. If you have any information, call Silent Observer at 616-774-2345.

Click the links for more information on the 2015 Eat Dirt Mud Run, Never the Same, and Silent Observer.