Set the table! 300 are coming for dinner!
It was a special evening Tuesday at Camp Fantastic in Front Royal, where in the words of NIH Dr. Francis Collins children who are undergoing treatment for cancer get to “spend the week around the campfire feeling like regular kids again.”
And if anybody needs to eat a good meal it’s these worthy kids, which means they rely on volunteers from throughout the region, Rappahannock County included, to roll up their sleeves and don their aprons.
A meal for 110 kids who are sick with cancer, along with 100 of their best buddies, doctors and attendants. For more than 30 years this tremendous week has been arranged by the organization Special Love. A man named Dave Smith runs this and similar camps all over America.
For Tuesday’s dinner, prepared by Rappahannock’s finest, Karen and Yogi Bear picked up the pizzas. Kay Kohler brought the quiches. Richard Antony, Gordon Axelson, Joel Daczewitz, Jim Manwaring, Bill Nenninger, Bill Pragluski, Bob Metcalf, Buck Payne, and Rudy Seegar made salad.
Scott Wells and Jim Blubaugh drove all over the county picking up chicken, ears of corn, and fixins for hoagies. Helping set up the dining room were Frank Raiter, Bob Metcalf, Larry Grove, Mary Graham, Kit Johnston, Dennis Kelly, Cindy Williams and Buck Payne.
Larry “Bud” Meyer reported in, donned plastic gloves, and got ready to join the serving line, featuring those who call themselves “the Sperryville crew” — Mike Leake, Richie Burke, and Greg Williams (if the Lions Club had a football team, this would be the center of the line).
Ninety hoagies were constructed and cut twice each to create 270 sandwiches, accomplished by Sandra Antony, Gary Giebel, Judy DeSarno, Kathy Grove, Bob Hurley, Mary Graham, Kit Johnston, Nancy Studds and Carolyn Manwaring. Eleven dozen ears of corn were shucked and halved and cooked!
Jan Makela, assisted by Michelle Woodard and Rose Shaffer, prepared and delivered five huge pans of mac and cheese. Jan also brought ten cases of water. Twenty-nine tables were decorated with extraordinary fresh flowers, arranged by Donna Brune and Ann Daniels, who had help from Carolyn Emerick.
When Dennis Kelly arrived to join the happy mayhem he was asked about his job. He looked around and said “find a need and fill it,” and off he went.
Sandra Jenkins, Alice Butler and Carol Patton made 300 cookies and picked up 120 cupcakes (peanut free, mind you). Also baking cookies: Sally Fetter and Carroll Beard. These ladies are from Sojourners for Christ at Washington Baptist Church.
Kathy Gangel stirred 15 gallons of lemonade and iced tea, and Ross O’Donohue wielded a mop — getting good practice for the cleanup afterward with Dave Shiff. Ian Blubaugh, son of Jim, found work in the salad mix. Anne Grenade came along and was immediately put to work.
Four Rappahannock sheriff’s deputies volunteered to whip up cotton candy and make snow cones: Roger Jenkins, Jim Jones, Cody Dodson and Robbie Fincham, whose wife Michele also helped out. Nearby, Justine Jones, daughter of Deputy Jim, joined Charlotte Turnmeyer in offering face painting. Marie Davis and Beverly Atkins are two of the original committee members who put “Rappahannock night” together.
Outside the dining hall were large colorful goody bags, assembled by the 10-year-old twins of Linda Baldwin, who is one of the 4H officials in charge of what is a truly remarkable evening for some amazing children who don’t have it as good as the rest of us.