'Craft and cornhole' fundraiser raises money for Special Olympics
Times West Virginian - 8/18/2019
Aug. 18--FAIRMONT -- Corn hole bags were tossed through the air and craft beer was poured as a unique fundraiser for Special Olympics West Virginia took place Saturday evening at The Rambling Root in Fairmont.
Called "Craft and Cornhole," the fundraiser began at 6 p.m. as First Street in the vicinity of the bar was closed off for people to play cornhole. Inside, attendees could drink three craft beers.
"It's such a wonderful cause, and it's a lot of fun," said Melanie Cook of Morgantown, who was playing cornhole. "We're just happy to be here."
Allyson Carr, director of special events for Special Olympics West Virginia, said the goal for the fundraiser was $5,000 to $7,000. She said the proceeds will go to the state office of Special Olympics West Virginia and put into the organization's five state-level events throughout the year, such as its annual basketball and cheerleading tournament on the WVU campus.
Carr said Special Olympics draws close to 800 athletes from all over the state, including Marion County. Just an hour into the fundraiser, $400 had already been raised, she said.
"Because of fundraisers like today that we're having, we can offer our state-level events at no cost to our athletes in different counties," Carr said.
She said the money can be used for such expenses as lodging and food for Special Olympics athletes at the organization's state events. She said Special Olympics wanted the fundraiser to be hosted in Fairmont.
"We're a statewide nonprofit, we serve over 4,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities throughout the state," Carr said. "Here locally, we have athletes from Marion and Harrison and Monongalia County and surrounding areas, so that's one reason we wanted to come to Fairmont."
Also, she said the organization has never had a state fundraiser in Fairmont, so it wanted to host one in the city.
"We have a lot of athletes up here, so that's kind of how we ended up in this area," she said.
She said Special Olympics wanted to have "a fun Craft and Cornhole weekend before summer ends." Carr found The Rambling Root, located on Fairmont Avenue, an appealing site for the fundraiser.
"I wasn't familiar with Fairmont so much, so I came up for a day and I was driving around and I walked into The Rambling Root, and I loved the personality that it had."
She said DJ Cassell, the owner of the business, and bar manager Abbie Amor, were very helpful and were open to holding the fundraiser. Cassell was happy to have The Rambling Root involved with the fundraiser.
"We're always trying to help out organizations that we believe in," Cassell said. "And the opportunity came up for us to help them out and host this cornhole tournament and get these guys a little bit of money. We're more than happy to help them out. Actually, one of our staff previously donated time to them during their Special Olympics last year. So, he got us in touch with them."
At the fundraiser, people paid $60, which gave them a customized "Craft and Cornhole" pint glass they could fill up with three craft beers with three drink tickets. In addition, they could eat at a food bar, which featured pulled pork sliders and a nacho bar with beer cheese made with local beer.
They also received three raffle tickets that gave them the chance to win WV cornhole boards. And they could play cornhole, of course.
Another option allowed people to donate $20 for a pint glass and a pint of craft beer.
Carr said the three kegs of craft beer were donated. Cassell said Mountain State Brewing Company provided a keg of Cold Trail craft beer, Chestnut Brew Works gave a keg of Halleck craft beer and Big Timber Brewing donated a keg of Forest Fest craft beer.
"All those beers are great," he said.
Two Fairmont residents, Sam Wilmoth and Juliana Royse, stopped by and simply made a donation. They thought Special Olympics was a good cause.
"I think it's really cool to work deliberately to include people with disabilities in as many different parts of our culture and society as we can," Wilmoth said. "I think it's awesome."
He thought the Special Olympics athletes benefitted from the physical activity and the bonds that he said sports can provide.
"I'm not a sports person, but I think giving to a good cause is a really worthwhile way to spend your money," Royse said.
Cody Stewart of Fairmont, who was playing cornhole, said, "I think it's a great cause. More than cornhole, it's giving to Special Olympics, so we're glad to be a part of it."
Local musician Michael Edward Stewart Jr. provided live music for the fundraiser.
Eric Hrin can be reached at 304-367-2549, or email@example.com.
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