12-year-old walks 115,000 steps to raise $5,000 for Shelter House

The son of Associate Women’s Basketball Head Coach Jan Jensen walked through North Liberty, Coralville, and Iowa City to raise money for the homeless shelter.

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Jake Maish

The entrance to Shelter House is seen on Wednesday, July 15 2020 in Iowa City. (Jake Maish/The Daily Iowan)

Cole Krutzfield, News Reporter


Jack Jensen-Fitzpatrick, the 12-year-old son of Iowa Women’s Basketball Associate Head Coach Jan Jensen, completed a 115,000-step walk on July 18 to raise money for Shelter House, a non-profit organization in Iowa City, as part of its Beat The Heat summer fundraiser.

Jensen said her son’s first walk raising money for Shelter House took place in January, when he walked 115,000 steps inside due to the cold weather.

“Then a few weeks ago, Jack got really excited about wanting to do another walk and breaking his record and wanting to do it the upcoming Saturday,” Jensen said.

Jensen said the family decided to make the most of the opportunity and contacted Shelter House about making the walk a fundraiser for the organization, and coincidentally, Shelter House was starting its summer fundraising drive the Monday after the walk.

She said a lot of preparation went into the two-marathon length walk. She promoted the event beforehand on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and on her son’s Youtube channel, placing links to the Shelter House website where people could donate to the organization.

“The walk started at around 4:30 in the morning, and we started by walking from our house in North Coralville to North Liberty with my wife Julie walking 13 miles with us,” Jensen said.

Jensen said many supportive neighbors also got up early that Saturday morning to walk with them to North Liberty.

“We then walked all the way to downtown Iowa City by lunchtime with Julie driving nearby to us with supplies, like water,” Jensen said. “Then Jack decided that we should walk to the Shelter House headquarters at the 50,000-step point as a nice reminder of why they are doing the walk.”

RELATED: Shelter House event raises awareness of homeless community

Jensen noted how determined her son was to complete the walk, saying that he has always been determined to do big things and pushes himself to succeed in whatever he challenges himself to do.

“We walked around Iowa City — first to the Terry Trueblood area and then to City Park. All the while, Jack took the occasional break inside the car Julie was driving to cool off with the A/C, then we drove Jack home so that way he could cool off and he could eat supper,” Jensen said. “Afterwards, we walked around the neighborhood until he reached his goal at 11:59 with just seconds to spare.”

Jensen said Jack raised around $5,000 in total for the Shelter House.

Jenni Fitzgerald, special assistant to the head coach of Iowa Women’s Basketball, was present for part of the walk.

“I thought it was really inspiring to watch someone so young who wanted to make a difference,” she said.

Christine Ralston, director of development at Shelter House, said the organization provides major benefits and help for people struggling with homelessness in the Iowa City area.

“We have 70 beds at our facility, and we provide such things as employment counseling, which helps people who are homeless to find and maintain jobs, as well as a cleaning service for people who require a way maintain personal hygiene, and helping people who have no permanent residence to find apartments in Iowa City and help them pay their deposit and first month’s rent,” Ralston said.

She added that the money raised from Jensen-Fitzpatrick’s walk as well as the rest of the Beat the Heat fundraiser will be used to pay for amenities such as utilities and other increased costs of living.

Jensen hopes this experience will have a positive impact on both her daughter and her son.

“I hope our children understand how important it is to have good values and to help people,” she said.

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