If you believe the bumper stickers around Ankeny, once you’re a Hawk, you’re always a Hawk. But when Ankeny opened a second high school, some residents worried that loyalties and fans would be divided and both schools would suffer as a result.
Ankeny residents and brothers-in-law Jason Loutsch and Matt Meredith of MJ Properties have demonstrated that true Hawks are loyal to the city of Ankeny, not to one school or the other.
“Matt and I are both Ankeny High grads,” Loutsch says. “Our kids go here to school, I played football for Jerry Pezzetti, and the school has done so much for us. We wanted to do something for the schools in return.”
Although the two high schools have some beautiful facilities, each had limited resources remaining to equip teams and weight rooms fully.
Realtor Ron Sampson of Iowa Realty, who represents MJ Properties, is also a longtime Ankeny resident. “Jason and Matt are doing this for the love of the sport and to honor the kids and their coaches who work so hard all year,” he says. “They didn’t want to just support one school. There’s maroon in both teams, and both deserve to have an equal opportunity against their opponents.”
So when Loutsch was approached about donating to a fund-raiser for the Ankeny High School athletic program, he decided to do more than write a check. MJ Properties started its own campaign.
“Dennis Albaugh set a good example for us,” Loutsch says of their father-in-law. “He’s been active in giving back to the town for years.”
Albaugh’s annual classic car show was a regular fund-raiser for the school district, but interstate construction near Albaugh’s property prevented the show from happening for the past couple of years. Loutsch and Meredith wanted to do something to make up for part of that loss.
“We met with the athletic directors for each school to find out what they needed and presented our idea,” Loutsch explains. “We didn’t want either school to feel slighted. And even though we’re Ankeny graduates, we do most of our building in the Ankeny High School district, and I live in the Centennial district, so we wanted to support both schools.”
Instead of just donating money, MJ Properties committed to building a house to benefit the athletic programs for both high schools with hopes of raising as much as $10,000 for each.
“I’ve known Jason since he was a kid, and I’ve been representing MJ Properties for several years, so when Jason asked if I’d be willing to forego my commission on their charity project, I didn’t hesitate,” Sampson says.
Sampson, a longtime former member of the Ankeny Sports Boosters, knows how hard the boosters work for every dollar they contribute to the athletic programs. The contribution os MJ Properties would be a huge boost.
“I suggested Jason talk to his contractors, too, to see if they’d like to participate in the project, and Iowa Realty pitched in their commission as well,” Sampson says.
Nearly every subcontractor MJ Properties approached was willing to work for cost only. Before long, that $10,000 donation for each school had snowballed to $25,000.
“Jason and Matt found out how generous and loyal their suppliers are, too,” Sampson says. “Everyone wanted to be part of this.”
“We broke ground the beginning of September and expect the house will be move-in ready the first part of January,” Loutsch says.
In fact, the company hopes to have the house sold before the first athletic club meeting of 2015 so the donation can be presented at that time.
The two-story on Bellagio Court in the Otter Creek development has over 3,000 square feet of finished space, including five bedrooms and a lower-level family room. Features like birch cabinets and stainless-steel appliances in the kitchen, brushed-nickel door hardware, and hardwood floors throughout make the home ideal for a growing family that will benefit from Ankeny’s top-notch schools and athletic programs.
And thanks to MJ Properties, its realtor, and its contractors, those athletic programs will be even better equipped for years to come.