By Angela Huston
Special to The Gazette
On Jan. 27, there were â€œwildâ€ animals, colorful flashing lights, jolly snowmen, balmy beach sites and much more to entertain, amuse and challenge about 500 people who took part in the 15th annual Medina General Hospital Golf IN-ing (as opposed to outing) in the halls of the hospital.
This very popular miniature golf fundraising event originated as a department-designed nine-hole course in 1994.
It was one of a series of events to celebrate the hospitalâ€™s 50th anniversary, when then co-chairs Pat Neuendorff and Gary Linden were looking for something special and unique to encourage public participation.
It has continued to grow and expand, and in the process the event has raised more than $45,000 for the MGH Foundation to support Medina General Hospital.
The family-oriented event transforms the hospital into 18 of the most interesting and creative putt-putt holes imaginable, beginning with the Rain Forest Fairway and moving through the Scrub Rough, Winter Wonderland, the Surgical Sponge-Bob Slice, Beach Party Bunker, Bed Pan Alley, Crutch Shank and Code Red Run, to mention just a few of the cleverly identified theme holes.
The Hot Diggity Dog-Leg Hole featured volunteers from the hospitalâ€™s Canine Crew.
The pet therapy dogs and their handlers included Sonnet with Linda, Tri with William and Tasha with Lisa.
Fresh Air Fairway recognized the newly designated smoke-free campus at the hospital.
Those who made this yearâ€™s outing a success along with Chair Linda Kern were Donna Bolish, Linden, Cathy Carmany and Chaplain Rob Shores.
Volunteers who helped everywhere included Ken and Joyce Barlow; Ursula Biss; Ron Carmany; Nichole Carsten; Machelle Giordon; Corinne Hadley; Jeff, Faye and Andrew Jarrett; Steve Kern; Bob Larner; Tyler LeFevre; Joan and Bill Maki; Neuendorff; Linda Pfaff; Cliff Reeves; and Hailey and Lauren Thorn.
The sponsors were Acres of Fun, Akron Childrenâ€™s Hospital Physician Associates, Armstrong, Bil-Jac Foods, Inc., CBLH Design, Distillata Water Company, FireDex, Forms Associates Inc., Francis, Plunkett and Hammond, Gateway Records Management Center, The Gazette, G.T.B. Medical Service, Gary and Holly Hallman, Mack Industries, Maibachâ€™s Home Furnishings, Medina Mitsubishi Suzuki, Medina Noon Kiwanis, Oâ€™Sullivan Consulting Group, Ron Pfaff Electric, Root Candles, The Ruhlin Company, Simmons Brothers Construction, Standard Welding, Steinke, Vertal, Langdon and Drum, SummaCare Inc., Surgical Associates of Medina Inc., Talbertâ€™s Commercial Products, Trillium Creek, US Bank and Don and Hope Wilder.
Other contributors were AMF Medina Lanes, Buehlerâ€™s River Styx, Canine Crew, Medina General Hospital, Medina High School Athletic Boosters, Medina Life Support Team, Nutrition Services Department of MGH, Pepsi America and Rinky Dink Family Fun Center.
Participants were invited to drop their score cards into a box for a chance to win one of several prizes in the random drawing that was held at the end of the day.
Refreshment specials were offered at the 19th hole.
The event usually raises more than $5,000 annually. Proceeds benefit the MGH Foundation.
The February 2008 issue of â€œBon Appetit Magazineâ€ called it the â€œmother of all chocolate festivals.â€ â€œAmerican Profileâ€ listed it as the â€œhappening event in Ohioâ€ between Jan. 28 and Feb. 18.
Billboards everywhere issued invitations to people to visit the 11th annual â€œFor the Love of Chocolateâ€ Dessert Contest, and the people came in great numbers Feb. 2 to the community center at the Medina County Fairgrounds.
The American Red Cross of Medina County and title sponsor, The J.M. Smucker Company, hosted the event that made it possible for people to indulge in rich, decadent chocolate treats provided by more than 30 chocolatiers located throughout the building.
Other event sponsors were: Media â€” The Gazette, Lamar Advertising and 98.1 WKDD; Silver Showcase â€” 620 Corporation, The Hoffman Group, RPM International Inc. and Westfield Bank. There also were more than 40 sponsors at other levels.
Children visited Candyland, were entertained by clowns Gymbo and Teapot and enjoyed a variety of games and amusements.
Other attractions included a raffle, silent auction, bake sale, chair massages and a snack bar that provided light meals.
For the first time, judging for the popular festival was held the evening before at the Buehlerâ€™s River Styx Community Room, under the direction of contest coordinator Katie Cureton (who with Beth Kilchenman and Dottie Nemec had made guest appearances on Robin Svobodaâ€™s television program the morning before the event).
This new judging arrangement eased congestion at the community center by freeing up the entire building for the chocolatiers to have more space.
It also gave the multitudes of chocolate lovers more room to move about more easily as they happily nibbled, sipped and munched popcorn, cookies, mousse, pies, cakes, fruits, milkshakes, ice cream, fudge â€”- all chocolate, of course.
Working with Cureton were planning committee members Cheryl Kerr, Kelly Schmotzer and Deb Spangler.
The judges who had the awesome task of selecting this yearâ€™s winners were: Lorraine Barnett/The Gazette, Chef Ellen Chaney, Chef Kevin Chaney, Zachary Miller/last yearâ€™s high school winner, Buehler Corporate Chef J Larkin, Angela Huston/The Gazette, County Commissioner Steve Hambley, Kasey Kyner/last yearâ€™s middle school winner, Chef Doug Cooper, Julie Gaume/retired home economist, Chris Anna Fullerton/CookieChix, Melody Costello/Pampered Chef Consultant and Buehlerâ€™s Kidzpark Manager Amy White.
The top three contest winners by category were: Adult Professional â€” first, Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Cheese-cake/Sonia Horvitz/â€œSoniaâ€™s Cheesecakes;â€ second, Kahlua Dream Bites/Dee Zarella and Chris Jenkins/â€œSister Sweets;â€ third, Chocolate Curl Cake/Peg Barry/â€œJust Desserts.â€
Adult Hobby â€” first, Best Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake/Jean Ficociello; second, Turtle Brownies/Jean Ficociello; third, Big Brownies/Joann Thompson.
High School â€” first, Zachâ€™s Black Forest Cake/Zachary Miller; second, Chocolate-Covered Banana Cake/Kasey Kyner; third, Cookie Burgers/Nicole Yount.
Middle School â€” first, Fun Marshmallow Bars/Wendy Yount; second, Four-Way Fudgie Chocolate Cake/Jared Tittle; third, Molten Chocolate Surprise/Taylor Neff.
Elementary School â€” first, Chocolate Oreos/Nicole Yakowec; second, A Bunnyâ€™s Favorite Dessert/Julia Petri; third, Double Chocolate Sugar Cookies/Zain Tittle.
Preschool â€” first, Daphneâ€™s Delight/Grace Selva; second, Serenityâ€™s Chocolate Caramel Cookies/Serenity Petry; third, Chocolate Chip Cookies/John Paul Fyda.
All proceeds help Medina County families prevent, prepare for and cope with emergencies.
Huston may be reached at areanews