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After a week of fiercely competitive online voting, the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies won third place in a competition sponsored by NRG Energy, taking home $5,000. The award money will go toward developing the September 11 National Memorial Trail.

The Community Foundation teamed up with a number of local conservation and recreation groups to win this award: The September 11 National Memorial Trail Alliance, the Conemaugh Valley Conservancy, Johnstown’s Vision 2025, Lift Johnstown, the Stonycreek Conemaugh River Improvement Project, the Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority, and Somerset County. We’re all extraordinarily grateful to our friends, volunteers, and to the public at large, who voted tirelessly online to help us win.

Our competitors were two community-serving nonprofits in Philadelphia; MANNA, and Gift of Life. The winner takes the grand prize of $100,000. Thank you to NRG Energy, which continues to show its commitment to our region with this gift. NRG operates several facilities throughout Pennsylvania, including the Seward Generating Station.

“We’re excited that we raised this money to create more outdoor trails through our region. Just as important, this competition allowed us to put a spotlight on this area’s phenomenal natural resources, and rally support for the worthy cause of developing these hiking and biking trails,” says Mike Kane, CFA Executive Director. “We successfully raised awareness of the importance of this project, not only in elevating our region’s quality of life, but as an economic engine to attract outdoor enthusiasts, casual tourists, historians, and patriots. That makes us all winners.”

The whole community rallied to vote nonstop. Supporting organizations held voting contests and voting parties. Local television, radio, and newspaper outlets graciously promoted our cause. Friends on social media enthusiastically spread the word, day after day. We’re proud of the region’s effort, and we’re especially excited that we raised money to create more outdoor trails through our region, which ultimately benefit us all.

The 1,300-mile September 11 Trail connects the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Ground Zero in N.Y.C., and the Flight 93 memorial site in Shanksville. Local organizations are working closely with the National Memorial Trail Alliance to develop portions of the trial through Cambria and Somerset counties.

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