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Published: 8/4/2008

On The Town: Putting cancer in park

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Cancer is a serious subject, but why not have fun raising money to crush the disease?

That s just what local folks did recently by throwing a party in a parking lot. And then from the parking lot, fun-loving fundraisers went to barking a lot about how much they want to help their furry friends over at the Bow Wow Bash.

Co-chairmen John Scott and Greg Kopan have shared host duties since 1988. We ve been partying for 21 years, Mr. Kopan said just before the fun started. We ve probably raised $300,000 in that time. But we re going in a new direction.

THAT SUMMER-pink glow suffused the Toledo Club parking lot Friday night even before the gorgeous sunset as dozens of pink-teed volunteers from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation assisted club members and staff during Parking Lot Party XXI. Some 1,500 party-goers were expected for the lively downtown do, with the top Beatles tribute band, The Return, headlining.

Originally, the party was members-only and the Kidney Foundation was the not-forprofit partner. More recently, the public has been invited. And this year, for the first time, the Susan G. Komen Foundation s northwest Ohio affi liate partnered with the club.

It was clearly good chemistry.

Only an hour into the party, organizers were publicly predicting a future relationship between the two groups.

The foundation chapter expects to garner 51 percent of the proceeds, funds which are sent out to support research and public health programs dealing with breast cancer prevention and treatment. So far this year, the regional chapter has bestowed $623,000 in grants, most of it for local activities.

In the pink, of course, Beth Stutler, development director for the chapter, said, We get the money. We give the money.

Additional fund-raisers during the Parking Lot Party included sales of private label pink, what else? wines courtesy of The Andersons and lots of pink doodads with the Komen touch, sold by Denise Koch and others. Jeff and Cindy Turner were busy hustling 50/50 raffle tickets. Some Komen volunteers proudly announced their status

as breast cancer survivors.

Executive director Chris Demko arrived later, after attending another Komen-supporting event, a rodeo in Gibsonburg, Ohio. She was just in time for The Return, four gents from Atlanta who look, play, and sound just like the original lads from Liverpool.

Formed in 1995, the band nailed the music and style of the Beatles during their show, as fans of all ages crowded the stage. John (Richard Stelling), George (Mike Fulop), Paul (Steve Landers), and Ringo (Adam Thurston), are much too young to have encountered their models live, but insist they love the music.

We wouldn t play it all over the country, otherwise, said Paul, er, Mr. Landers.

Waiting patiently for The Return were fans of the original Fab Four: Cindy and Lou D Amato, Mary and Buzz Ziegler, Sandra Clark, and Sylvia Sims she saw the Beatles in Detroit during a 1960s U.S. tour. Ms. Clark, principal horn for the Toledo Symphony, added, Some of their music is already classical.

The local trio, Silverspine, warmed up the crowd with original numbers by keyboardist Jeremy Crites, joined by drummer Brendan Pondy, and guitarist Randy Hiser. Mr. Hiser built all the electric guitars he played in the funky numbers.

In the VIP tent, sponsor Larry Boyer was all smiles as he and his son, Stephen, caught up with each other. The younger Mr. Boyer is an over-the-road trucker based in Bibo, N.M., and drove his Freightliner northeast for a visit. Also enjoying cooked to order picnics there were Keith Burwell, Dave Quinn, Mike Goetz, and George Korhumel.

As the parking lot filled up with party-goers, Litza Lee snapped pictures of Silverspine, volunteers Tony Tkaczyk, Maria Patrilla, and Marty Patrilla assisted in the food area, where the Dorr Street Caf and Memphis Barbecue were doing big

business, and Komen volunteers Heather Wolford, Sarah Krempa, and Jimand De Van Buren welcomed guests.

Enjoying plates of barbecue and clad in dapper splendor were C.J. and Elaine Washington, Rod Owen, Dale and Serena Bernard, and Penny and Emil Marks. Also on hand to enjoy the beautiful evening and great party were Michelle Zielinski, Linda Dove and Paul Many, the Rev. Michael Billian, and Kimi Chapman with hubby Brian he in a bright green blazer, champion s trophy for the annual Lawn Sports Day competition the couple throw each summer in their South Toledo home.

While final figures are still being tallied, Mr. Kopan guessed more than $10,000 would be shared with the Komen group.

Sally Vallongo

IF ONLY the hundreds of cats and dogs housed at the Toledo Area Humane Society and in foster homes could have attended Friday night s Bow Wow Bash they would be reassured of how many people care about their welfare.

The shelter s first party raised about $6,000. This second year was at Nairobi at the Toledo Zoo.

Hence, no dogs and cats were allowed, but they defi nitely were there in spirit and in conversation.

Ask any of the 300 guests at the casual event why they had paid the $40 to attend and the answer was likely to be Because we love animals. That remark was usually followed by their experiences they had volunteering at the shelter or taking an animal or more into their home to keep until it was ready for adoption.

It was a bash, as promised, with the music of Johnny Rocker and the Hitmen beating out lively toe-stomping tunes and Mexican and Italian foods piled high in steam pans at two long buffet tables.

But down deep there were also heart-warming stories and statistics that underline the importance of an agency that is not dependent upon taxpayer funds, but only on grants, donations, and fund-raising events.

The other two annual fund-raising events are the Fur Ball in the fall and Walk for the Animals in the spring. Sherri Miller, media relations representative, said the Toledo agency is 124 years old, or one of the oldest in the nation, and that next year, on the 125th anniversary, an even bigger bash can be expected.

Peggy Brown, president of the board, announced that in the last year 5,900 cats and dogs were admitted to the shelter and 2,100 calls about the abuse or neglect of animals were answered.

The crowd applauded when Ms. Brown announced that a new policy at the shelter gives both cats and dogs socializing breaks from their cages. The cats can leave their cages at night to roam and the dogs are let out in the afternoon to play.

Interim director Nick Martinez says of the animals on their break time, They are like little kids, exercising and socializing.

He grew up on a ranch in Colorado, so suffi ce it to say he has been working with animals all his life. A retired corporate human resources director, Mr. Martinez estimates he foster -cares for about 70 cats a year.

Board members Judy McFarland and Teresa Beebe headed the planning committee. Many of the more than 350 volunteers who help in ways ranging from

cuddling kittens to walking dogs were at the party including Susan Schick, who volunteers because I just love animals.

Also passionate about flowers, Ms. Schick also volunteers at Toledo Botanical Gardens and the Toledo Hospital flower department.

I believe that you should help in your community and that what you give comes back

to you, she said, while selling raffle tickets at the Bow Wow.

Joanna and Norm Koenigseker worked at making the whimsical animal centerpieces. He cut out the patterns on a jigsaw and she decorated them. They

have been volunteers five years, or since they adopted a cocker spaniel they named Keeper. The dog brought so much joy into their lives they decided to keep on volunteering.

Mrs. Koenigseker takes care of the auction table at the Fur Ball and Mr. Koenigseker, an associate professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Toledo, speaks on pet ownership and safety to school and church groups.

Sandi Kalosis volunteer experiences are bittersweet. Ms. Kalosis has taken care of cruelty animals for 11 years. Many are cared for in her home. She admits that after five or six weeks it s hard to give them up, but she sees improvement through her

care and she can tell the adoptive owners the good and weak points of the animal. They depend on you so much and absorb love like a sponge, she said.

Mary Alice Powell

Contact Sue Brickey at: suebrickey@theblade.com or 419-724-6121.



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