Krista Linden understands endurance. A mother to seven daughters and a recent Ironman 70.3 finisher, the founder and CEO of the nonprofit Step By Step is ready for the next big finish.

Step By Step, which helps at-risk mothers support healthy babies from pregnancy through infancy, started a marathon fundraiser that has secured $7 million aimed at finishing a massive project to preserve an iconic bulb farm in Puyallup and create the organization’s Germaine Korum Center for Women and Children.

“I decided to train for endurance races because I knew how hard it would be to take what I have envisioned and make it a reality,” Linden said. “The tenacity and discipline required to train physically paralleled what I was going through mentally and emotionally to raise the needed funds and move the project toward completion.”

A familiar place with a new vision, the center will include a 400-person event hall, a 2,000-square-foot kitchen and 80-seat restaurant, as well as classrooms, child care and a number of vital on-site programs for mothers and families: soft-skills and job-readiness training, mental health counseling, money management, mentorship and much more.

The funding, much of it secured through private donors and grants, has seen Step By Step through major mile-markers in this race: acquisition of the historic former Van Lierop homestead, design and permitting phases, and construction of a greenhouse for flower and produce sales. “I grew up on a farm,” Linden said. “I believe farms are one of the best representations of grit, fortitude, and hard work.”

“One of the most powerful feelings we can experience in our lives is accomplishing what we thought was impossible.”

The last hurdle standing between Linden, Step By Step and their biggest finish line yet is $2.5 million, a gap in funding resulting from rapidly increasing construction costs over the past year as well as an increase in the scope of the project. “Our team will continue working diligently to bring this final stretch of the capital campaign to the finish line,” Linden said. “Because this is a project for the community, and in many ways by the community, we want to inform the public that has been so generous. We humbly ask for your help as we complete this last, important leg of the race.”

Past donors for the project include local heavy hitters such as Jerry and Germaine Korum, local business owners who are known for their community involvement. The center is named for Germaine, who is battling lung cancer and is a longtime advocate for the health and well-being of women and children.

Some naming opportunities are still available for future donors to the project, which Step By Step hopes to complete by Mother’s Day weekend 2019, weather dependent. A groundbreaking for constructionspearheaded by contractors Mountain Construction and RW Scottis scheduled for Aug. 28 at 5 p.m. Work will begin on the restaurant, kitchen, event hall, classrooms, parking, septic and a new water main.

“One of the most powerful feelings we can experience in our lives is accomplishing what we thought was impossible,” Linden said. “Every step toward a goal builds on itself until we cross the finish line. Whether that is training for a race, addressing domestic violence, conquering addiction, getting a degree or leaving generational poverty. Our minds are powerful. To be supported on a journey toward independence and away from dependence, there is nothing more worthy of our time and resources, especially for the mothers and babies who need it most.”

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