MEDINA TWP. — When Don and Cindy Howdyshell were invited to the annual Medina County Commissioners’ Ball for the first time this year, they promptly decided to attend.
The ball raises money for local charities, and the Howdyshells, who live in Silver Lake, love supporting worthy causes. The event also was a chance for them to enjoy a little ballroom dancing.
“We’ve been dancing off and on for 20 years, but we started up again about a year ago,” said Don Howdyshell, a retired attorney with Babcock & Wilcox.
“It’s a way to exercise without realizing you’re exercising,” Cindy Howdyshell said. “It’s good for your brain, too.”
The 19th annual Medina County Commissioners’ Ball raised about $35,000, and more than 185 people attended Saturday night at Weymouth Country Club.
This year’s recipient organizations — chosen by commissioners Pat Geissman, Adam Friedrick and Bill Hutson — were Habitat for Humanity Medina County; Lodi-Harrisville Historical Society; Medina County Historical Society; Medina Health Ministry; Oasis of Hope Pregnancy and Parenting Support Center in Medina; and Robby’s Recovery Center and Caf￩ in Medina.
Geissman said the ball is important because sources of funding for local organizations are limited.
“We’ve given more than $400,000 to charities since we started,” Geissman said.
The ball originally was Geissman’s idea. Before serving as a commissioner, she was executive director of the Medina County chapter of the American Cancer Society, and she knew how local charities struggled to raise money.
“I felt the commissioners could use their influence in the community to bring people together and support these local charities,” Geissman said. “It has worked out well over the years.”
Each person attending the ball donates $60, while businesses and individuals too numerous to mention sponsor the event. Over the past
19 years, the ball has helped more than 30 nonprofit organizations.
Geissman said this year’s attendance and total giving spiked compared with recent years.
“When the recession hit, we saw our attendance and sponsorship numbers go down,” Geissman said. “But we’ve been coming out of the recession and people are getting involved again. Even individual donors are coming forward.”
Those individuals include Brian and Denise Testa, of Canal Fulton, who attended the ball Saturday. It wasn’t their first time.
“The ball has a positive impact on our community, and community is important in Medina County,” Denise Testa said.
Messages may be left for Bob Sandrick at (330) 721-4060.