By Dawn Hatfield
GREENVILLE — Saturday, March 4, 2023 was a glamorous night at Radiant Lighthouse as hundreds of people showed up to support Darke County Special Olympics (DCSO). Each year, Greenville High School’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) class sponsors “A Night in Hollywood” to raise funds for this special organization. This year’s proceeds totaled an astounding $11,000, as reported by SCM instructor Melissa Riethman on April 6.
This event, which started as four students’ idea for a Business Professionals of America (BPA) competition piece nine years ago, has grown into a highly-anticipated annual event full of talent, food, auctions, raffles, and dancing. Since the event’s inception in 2014-15, “A Night in Hollywood,” has averaged over $8,000 per year in donations. The Supply Chain Management students’ new lifetime total donation has now been elevated to more than $73,000.
At the 2022 event, Addison Hart, one of the four GHS students who originally launched “A Night in Hollywood” said, “We started this my junior year, and we didn’t think it would be as impactful as it has been… I am really honored to be a part of that [legacy]. I thank everyone for continuing the love and support for this program.”
As a first-year teacher of Supply Chain Management, Riethman knew the 2023 event would take a lot of coordination and planning. She and her handful of SCM students decided they would basically “start from scratch.” Still, they were optimistic about their vision and the generosity of the community and set a lofty goal of raising at least $10,000 for the Darke County Special Olympics.
Unlike previous years, where they relied mostly on phone contact with community members, students stepped up to a face-to-face approach going door-to-door and talking about the event. They found the community to be incredibly supportive when educated about the mission of “A Night in Hollywood,” especially now that new sponsorship levels have made it even more affordable.
Riethman said, “The students came into the school year ready to make changes and embrace a new outlook and approach to the event. Their hearts and talents we’re definitely shown with their success. Seeing the excitement and joy on their faces at the end of the night and again when I gave them the donation total, that’s something I will never forget. There is no doubt that this group of young leaders will accomplish anything they put their minds to.”
“A Night in Hollywood 2023” was a monetary as well as an entertainment success. The night featured the following performers after a welcome by Riethman and DCSO Director Cindy Rose: Wavaires; Ryan Burnett; Katie Gilpin; John Rediger; a set by Tommy Renfro; Ashley Mullins; Matt Strickland and Lauren Warner; Final Bow Warehouse; Final Bow Artistic Variations; and Kyle Wooten with a dedication to Franie Shellabarger, a member of the Darke DD community who tragically passed away in December.
Sam Ploch continued his reign as Master of Ceremonies and provided many laughs and a lot of trivia between acts and throughout intermission. The following performers closed out the night: Aleiha Fenton and Maggie Gallaway; Alex Martin; Cali Duff; Lauren Warner; Maryann Whitaker; Lupe Miniard; Mason Milletts; Shannon Clark and the Sugar; and finally DJ911, who provided a dance party for everyone involved.
It is anticipated the 2023 donation check will be presented during Darke County Special Olympics Track and Field Day on Friday, May 12, where hundreds of school-aged special needs athletes from across Darke County will gather for a day of friendly and fun competition. Student athletes, numerous volunteers and awards presenters, as well as countless spectators will assemble at The Jennings Center Track and Field Complex next to Greenville High School to participate in the 45th year of the annual event.
The Darke County Special Olympics, founded in 1978, began with Sue Wilson as its original director. According to Greenville City School Teacher and current Darke County Special Olympics Director of more than two decades, Cindy Rose, it started with about eight athletes who participated in a track and field event in Dayton, Ohio. The following year, the first Darke County Special Olympics Track and Field event took place locally. It is because of generous donors and organizers, such as the SCM class, that this incredible event continues to thrive and grow.
Rose said in a previous news article, “We operate on all volunteers and donations. It’s community, bottom line, that makes this possible… I try to tell people, it is just not like that in every county. It goes to show what Darke County is really like.”
Next year’s SCM class is already working on what they envision for 2024 and are eager to beat their 2023 total.
For “A Night in Hollywood” sponsorship information, contact Melissa Riethman at [email protected] or 937-548-3185 ext. 1303.
To discover the year-round athletic opportunities available through the Darke County Special Olympics program, call 937-504-2050 or follow DCSO on Facebook.
Reach Daily Advocate Reporter Dawn Hatfield at [email protected] or 937-569-0066.