By Angela Huston
Special to The Gazette
About 1,000 people gathered in the Buehlerâ€™s River Styx parking area Sept. 14 to support the fourth annual Race with Grace, hosted by the Mary Grace Memorial Foundation.
The two-fold mission of the nonprofit organization founded by Mike Grace in the spring of 2005 is to memorialize Mary Grace â€” his young wife and mother of their three children who lost her battle with cancer earlier that year â€” and to raise money to donate to cancer related charities.
Since its inception, the foundation has raised more than $160,000 and has helped 140 families.
â€œOur goal is to help pay for daily necessities so cancer patients and their families can concentrate on fighting the disease,â€ Grace said.
The organization grossed more than $36,000 this year.
The soggy weekend weather opened a window of sunshine before the wind storm arrived later Sunday afternoon.
People of all ages, couples with young children, many pushing strollers and/or walking dogs, took part in the family oriented event.
Immediate Grace family members who were among the volunteers were Maryâ€™s parents, Dick and Nancy Fritz; her husband, Mike, and children Allison, Tim and Will, Mikeâ€™s parents, Don and Joan Grace; Patrick and Elizabeth Grace; Don and Erin Grace; Kevin and Katie Grace; Danny Grace; Terry Grace; and uncle and aunt Jeff and Mary Beth Grace Esterburg.
Major sponsors were Dorman-Farrell, MelCap Partners Inc., il Molino di Grace, the Frank Ick family, Nu-Di Corp., Hamel and Associates Inc. and Medina General Hospital. There were 44 other sponsors as well.
Entertaining music provided by a bagpipe player and DJ Dave Steirer. Children had their faces painted, Mootown Creamery handed out ice cream cones and Buehlerâ€™s donated fresh fruits and beverages.
Among the participants were the Paul, Barbara and Jordan Wright family; Stan and Barbara Severs; Nancy Gatsios and her neighbor/running buddy Jessica Hirz; Emma Constance; Carrie Esker and her daughters Emmi and Alli Esker, who were running with the St. Francis cross-country team; Tim Gerity; Stephanie Novicky; Julie Root; Marty and Jane Norton Robinson; Nancy Ihrig; Cheryl Sturgess and several of the Pink Canaries; Ken Tender and his wife, Ruth Etta, who was running with the staff from Sharon Center Veterinary Hospital; Janie Parish; Denise Vaca and her sister Ann; Daneen Beal; Katie Cureton; Doug Turnbaugh; Mark Dorman; Phil and Mary Jane Brewer; and Flip and Amy Brewer and their children.
When the runners and walkers returned, Mike Grace thanked board members, volunteers and sponsors for making the race happen.
He said this yearâ€™s sponsors alone contributed more than $23,000.
Before presenting this yearâ€™s race winners, Grace read an emotionally touching e-mail from an unnamed cancer survivor who ran the race last year for the first time. He said her poignant comments were what this race is all about.
Grace then announced the winners of the day. The overall female winner was Michelle Farr, and the overall male winner was Andrew Lynden.
Second-place overall winners were Debra Rafferty and Charles Moore, and third-place overall winners were Debbie Scheel and Adam Solich.
The first place winners in all the other categories from younger than 10 to older than 55 were: Sara Schramm, Brenna Sherman, Cory Grumbach, Madeline Kranz, Sam Guinta, Kaitlyn Toennies, Patrick Fisher, Danielle Zinn, Eugene Crum, Megan Wilinski, Kevin Coffee, Marti Stuedle, Shaun Gaskin, Andrea Wisniewski, Jeffrey Leblanc, Heather Bechtel, Steven Faust, Connie Hissong, Doug Klein, Gayle Pickering, John Gorsek, Nancy Danisek and Rob Henzey. Each received a live rose bush.
Second-place winners in all categories were: Brooke Loftis, Matthew Geary, Julie Grace, Zachary Dombi, Jessica Hirz, Danny Grace, Coree Heighway, Anthony Mion, Kiera Mellion, Brant Butzer, Susan Hooper, Mark Bugner, Dianne Geary, Kent Mowrer, Karen Crean, Rick Bechtel, Kim Brightbill, Joseph Schwender, Laura Matthews, Mike Bates, Jeanne Sikorski and Jim Sprankle.
Third place winners in all categories were: Jenna Kupcik, Matthew Bildstein, Sarah Pack, Phillip Willse, Taylor Frederick, Geoff Carabin, Tricia McNeill, Henry Brettrager, Valerie Sesock, Scott Kallback, Kim Keller, Terry Grice, Mary Miller, Paul Wilson, Lisa Grumbach, Doug Willse, Joanne Dejongh, Marc Hurteau, Christine Dresser, John Bradley, Jane Swartz and Gary Underwood.
The Mary Grace Memorial Foundation provides financial assistance to individuals receiving active treatment for cancer or cancer-related illnesses. Assistance is available to people who reside in Medina, Ashland, Wayne or Stark counties. For additional information, visit: www.marygracefoundation
Christmas shoe boxes
Past Rotary District Governor Jack Young acknowledged and extended thanks to all those involved in this yearâ€™s Christmas Shoe Box program.
In all, 16 area clubs and friends of Rotary, an estimated 300 people, helped fill shoe boxes for the Children of the Dump in Chinandega, Nicaragua, who literally live in and around a garbage dump.
Due to the organizational efforts of Marsha Pappalardo of the Rotary of Brunswick, the Rotary clubs, which included Medina, Medina Sunrise, Wadsworth and Brunswick, as well as Brunswick High Schoolâ€™s VOFT and Brunswick Preschool PTA, filled and sent 450 shoe boxes from Northeast Ohio.
Last year they sent 300 boxes. In addition, they filled another 14 boxes to be given to the school teachers, sewing teacher at the trade school and the medical clinic.
On Aug. 30, Stan Socha of the Rotary of Brunswick, joined Chip Rogers and his dad in transporting three vehicles filled with the boxes and extra supplies to Troy, Mich., to be combined with more than 3,000 shoe boxes from other Rotary districts and states to be shipped to Nicaragua by Wal-Mart.
It takes several months for the shipment to arrive; the boxes will be distributed to students in December when Young and at least 15 other Rotarians and friends of Rotary will be in Nicaragua, assuring the boxes are given to those for whom they are intended.
In addition to the boxes, Rotary is looking at expanding the micro business process, sending a medical team to help with surgery for children, obtaining additional fire and rescue equipment and supplies, securing medical equipment and supplies and help from another Rotary district that wishes to build and furnish school buildings.
Huston may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.