Slice of Valley raises dough for charities

NILES — Samples of pizza, wings and beer brought people from throughout the Mahoning Valley to the ninth annual Slice of the Valley on Sunday at the Eastwood Event Centre.

The three-hour event is hosted by the Warren Rotary, which uses the funds to help local charitable organizations.

Cindy Matheson, president-elect of the Warren Rotary, said the event has been successful every year, attracting 1,200 people with each ticket allowing them to sample three pizzas.

Among the celebrity pizza judges were former Cleveland Browns players Peyton Hillis, a running back, and Kelly Holcomb, a quarterback. There also were judges for the wings and beer.

Matheson said the public could select their favorites.

There were nine different pizza places, seven wing vendors and nine beer vendors.

Ken LaPolla, president of Warren Rotary, said the event has grown because of “notoriety” and how the club has been able to give back to the community.

“The event is like being on autopilot once it starts. It does so well financially to help support so many organizations,” he said.

He said the event raises between $60,000 and $100,000 annually.

Helped over the years have been the Children’s Rehabilitation Center in Howland, Disabled American Veterans, St. Vincent de Paul Society and SCOPE Senior Services.

LaPolla said funds this year will be given to Special Olympics, local Boy and Girl Scouts, Game Changers, and Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership Riverside Park (formerly St. Joseph Riverside Hospital).

He said judges have included former TV stars of the 1950s and 1960s, and celebrity chefs.

Matheson put together themed wagons with raffle baskets inside that were pulled through the event so raffle tickets could be sold.

“It is something different for people to bid on,” she said.

Hillis and Holcomb said they were having a hard time deciding their favorite pizza.

“All of them tasted very good,” Hillis said.

Stan Boney of WKBN / WYTV, said the judges started with eight different plain pizzas and then speciality pizza.

“You begin to notice the difference in taste with the crust, sauce and cheese,” he said.

Patrick Kerrigan, head of the Oakhill Collaborative, said he can tell the taste of the pizza by the cheese.

Lauren Seminara of New Castle with Pizza Joe’s said people liked the pizza with pickles and sweet honey mustard.

Chase Dodd of Pymatuning Pizza said people liked the meat lover’s pizza.

Ellie Veltri of Amen Corner in Girard said people liked its hot pepper pizza while Mackenzie Fonagy of Jimmy Nero’s Pizzeria in Brookfield said people liked its pierogi pizza.

As for wings, Brandon Bingham of the Underground Lounge in Warren said people liked the raspberry charbaque wings.

Six-year old Rylan Ambrose of Warren was not hard to please when it came to pizza.

“I like any pizza with cheese,” he said.

Have an interesting story? Email Bob Coupland at bcoupland@tribtoday.com.


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