Carnival raises fun and funds

The Easter Seal carnival and band performances coincide with the Hot Rod Super Nationals this weekend.
BOARDMAN -- An annual Easter Seal Society carnival -- the local society's largest fund-raising event of the year -- has special meaning for a Struthers family.
Paul Griffiths of Midlothian Boulevard attended the event with his wife, Lisa, and sons James, 31/2, and Cory, 2. Speaking of his children, Griffiths said it is gratifying "just to see the looks on their faces, the awe, the amazement, the wonder.''
Both boys, attending the carnival for the first time this year, enjoyed the rides, especially the carousel and Flintstones car ride. "They rode all the kids' rides. They had a blast," he said.
James, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, goes to the Easter Seal Society in Youngstown four days a week for a preschool program and services, including physical, occupational and speech therapy. He has been going for almost two years.
"I think it's a great idea. They ought to have more of them [carnivals] to get the community involved," Griffiths said. "Without the fund-raisers, the kids wouldn't be able to get the care and the attention they need for the schooling and their therapies. It's just a great all-around morale builder also," he said.
About the event
The five-day carnival -- the 14th annual Easter Seals Drive for Dough -- opened Wednesday and has a $30,000 fund-raising goal. It continues from 5 to 11 p.m. today and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Shops at Boardman Park, featuring rides, games, refreshments and free entertainment daily.
Bands are featured nightly. The Lone Wolf country band performs from 7 to 9 tonight; the First Degree band from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday; and The Great Pretenders from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday, followed by a fireworks display donated by B.J. Alan at 9:45 p.m. Sunday.
Also on Sunday, about 150 motorcycle riders contributing $10 each will leave Warren Harley-Davidson business with a police escort at noon for the Hog Wild Harley Run, arriving at the Shops at Boardman Park an hour later.
Pizzerias will compete from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday in a Pizza Burn-Off, during which the public will sample their products and vote for their favorites, with a fund-raising auction of gift baskets afterward.
Hoping for visitors
Barbara DeRose, development coordinator for the local Easter Seal Society, said the carnival wasn't intentionally scheduled for the same weekend as the Hot Rod Supernationals, but happens to coincide with it, and she hopes the two events will complement each other.
"We can offer a little fun treat for the people that are passing by, and hopefully all the traffic and excitement created by the Hot Rod Nationals will bring us some more people," she said.
Celeste Lisko, marketing director for the Shops at Boardman Park, where the event has been for the past nine years, and an Easter Seal trustee, said the carnival's location along busy U.S. Route 224 gives the society the advantage of high visibility and awareness.
Beverly Couchie, Salem branch manager of Bank One, said 18 volunteers from the bank are working at this year's carnival. "It's an extremely worthwhile cause," she said.
Three Boardman High School juniors -- Dan Theodore, Dayna Despetorich and Aristides Papadopoulos -- staffed a hamburger stand at the carnival Thursday as volunteers.
Despetorich and Papadopoulos did so as part of a National Honor Society service project. "I enjoy helping others for a good cause," Papadopoulos said.

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