The volunteers who operate the pantry, most of whom are seniors, have been forced to move their operations outside due to COVID-19, a situation that poses major problems in the winter. The purpose of the event was to raise funds, non-perishables and raise awareness of The Pantry on the Corner, a pantry in Cuyahoga Falls that serves over 1,000 community members each month from tents on the Journey Covenant Church car park. The pantry serves nearly triple the number of families it served before the pandemic, according to Jeanette Valentine, the church’s pastor.
She hoped the event would raise enough funds for the Pantry to build a storage facility next spring to distribute goods without being in the elements. With over $ 5,000 and nine bags of non-perishable food collected, the winter months seem a little less daunting for the organization.
âLast winter was really tough, and this winter we’ll be outside again,â said Valentine. “has changed the way the pantry has to operate. There’s no way with the need we have to be able to get back to the way we used to be.”
A total of 25 teams participated, most of which were made up of sports teams from local high schools, fitness centers and first responders. Notable participants included Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters, who shot with City of Cuyahoga Falls employees; Stow Mayor John Pribonic, who shot with the Stow High School football team; and former Browns player Frank Stams, who shot with candidates for Democratic club Cuyahoga Falls.
Each team had 10 members, some of whom were free agents like Curtis Wakely, 47, of Silver Lake, who was randomly placed on a team by the event organizers.
Feats of strength are no foreign concept to Wakely, who competed in the Scottish Highland Games and was previously a member of Akron’s rugby team. These events caused him to drag sleds and haul 400 pounds of steel, but that was when he was a little younger and 50 pounds heavier, he said.
On Saturday, Wakley put his training and experience to the test alongside current and former members of the Woodridge High School football team and crossed the finish line in 16.73 seconds.
âWe’re just more than excited,â said Martin, who added that they represented their employer, the Fisher’s CafÃ© and Pub on the Peninsula, in addition to Woodridge High School.
Some of Wakley’s teammates represented both their alma mater and their workplaces, as was the case with Miles Ashbaugh, Martin Ashbaugh and Jad ElGhazal. They expressed no apprehension about pulling a vehicle that weighs more than a few African bush elephants.
Another team, called Sarge and the Recruits, was organized by Carol Sue Moore (Sarge), director of The Pantry on the Corner, and made up of members of Journey Covenant Church and other volunteers (the recruits).
Don’t be fooled; there was no training or boot camp involved with this group, Moore said. She earned her nickname by being the one who always barks orders and keeps everyone in line.
One group that trained for the event was the Fit Life Fit Fam, made up of members of the Fit Life Gym on Front Street in Cuyahoga Falls. Stephanie Howard was one of those members.
âIt’s really cool to see all the teams participating and the age ranges of everyone who does,â said Howard. âWe do heavy pulling in our gym, so it’s definitely a lot heavier than that. As long as you mastered the fundamentals, once you got him moving he was good to go.
The winner of the event was the second team from the Cuyahoga Falls Fire Department, who crossed the finish line in 16.21 seconds.
Mayor Walters hopes to make the fire truck an annual event that can sponsor a different local organization each year. The sentiment was shared by many onlookers, including Gus and Sarah Gerard, who brought their dogs Kirby and Darby to watch Sarah help pull the fire truck.
How to make a donation
âWe love coming to downtown Cuyahoga Falls,â Gus said of the event. âIt’s a beautiful region to visit.â
Contact Beacon Journal reporter Tawney Beans at [email protected] and on Twitter @TawneyBeans.
Donations to the Pantry on the Corner can be made online at the Journey Covenant Church website by clicking on Downtown Cuyahoga Falls Fire Truck Pull or by check payable to Journey Covenant Church (note line – Fire truck pull) c / o City of Cuyahoga Falls, 2310 Second St., Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44221.
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