Date: September 18, 2015
Danielle Hess, Reporter
MANSFIELD — Students from school districts in Richland County cut class Thursday to ride horses, golf carts and wagons at the 40th Annual Shriners Picnic and Fun Day at the Richland County Fairgrounds.
Around 300 students, teachers and volunteers gathered at the fairgrounds for a day of activities, lunch and refreshments, with musical accompaniment from Shriners Fun Day veteran, DJ Mr. Ed. The day of fun was organized by the Mansfield Shrine Club.
Jerry Gundrum, secretary of the Mansfield Shrine Club, said Shriners are all about helping kids. He said the annual picnic and fun day is a local club effort that supports special needs children in Richland County.
“(Fun Day) helps let the community know what Shriners do for children,” Gundrum said.
Bob Casey, intervention specialist at Prospect Elementary, said this was his first year attending the Shriners fun day at the fairgrounds. He said he attended events in Columbus organized by Shriners in the past.
“The Shriners are so supportive and their events are always well-organized,” Casey said. “I love seeing the excitement on the kids’ faces. Some of these kids would have never had the chance to do (activities) like this.”
Kristy Smith, intervention specialist at Stingel Elementary, said she’s attend the Shriners fun day for two years.
“It’s a great opportunity to get the kids out in the community and experience things they wouldn’t normally get to do,” Smith said.
K.D. Hock and Beth Rachel, aides at Stingel Elementary, said they like bringing students to the event because they always have a good time.
Mansfield Shrine Club president, Phil Devoe, said the event is free to school districts that attend. He said the Shriners work the gates during fair week each year to raise enough money to host the picnic and fun day. Devoe said it’s all about putting smiles on kids’ faces.
Students were wheeled around the fairgrounds in horse-drawn carriages pulled by Percheron horses. The Percheron horses were provided by Gary and Donna Biglin. Rob Earhart of Bellville and Rhonda Tedrow of Mansfield brought in horses and volunteers for fun day. Mansfield Senior High School football players led horses around the horse barn.
Mansfield Shrine director Ken Amos said the kids really enjoy fun day. And so does he.
“A smile is all I need,” Amos said. “It lifts your spirit to see kids so happy to be here.”
The Mansfield Shrine Club helps take children with burn injuries and orthopedic problems to hospitals for treatment at no charge for transportation. Shriners Hospitals for Children are located throughout the state.