Frank Swalga spent six hours on a Monday in mid-June driving around a picturesque golf course. He didn’t swing a golf club. He didn’t tee up a golf ball. He didn’t make any putts.
Simple, he was busy making sure the 150 golfers on the Scotch Valley Country Club course all had a positive experience on a warm and sunny day during the 25th Annual Ronald McDonald House Charities® Mid-Penn Region Golf Outing on June 12 in Hollidaysburg, PA.
As a board member for the RMHC Mid-Penn Region, Frank was focused on making sure that all of the players on the 37 participating teams enjoyed their time at the non-profit organization’s top single fundraising event of the year.
“It’s a great tournament,” said Frank, a Government Contract Manager at NPC. “It was a very good day and the weather was very nice this year. This golf tournament is our biggest single function that brings in the most money each year.”
This year’s event was a resounding success, once again, bringing in an event record $39,000 to support the RMHC Mid-Penn Region’s fundraising efforts.
“The more money we raise, the more money we can give back to the charity,” Frank said. “I thought everything came together very well. And as usual, the players enjoyed themselves.”
Frank has been an RMHC board member for five years. He spends a lot of time coordinating this golf outing and a number of other RMHC initiatives throughout the year, and the rewards greatly outweigh the time commitment.
“It’s nice to be able to do something that helps people,” Frank said. “You meet people who utilize these (Ronald McDonald) houses, you hear the stories of these people… it’s a charity you wish you didn’t need. I feel very fortunate I can help these families going through bad times; the houses take away some of the stress in a bad situation.”
This was also the first year that Frank’s wife, Dawn, was able to help out at the event.
“She hears what’s going on, she knows it’s a big deal for me,” Frank said. “She likes to support the things we do (at NPC), and even though she doesn’t work at NPC, Mark (Barnhart, the owner/Chairman of the Board) makes her feel very welcome. I appreciate all that she was able to contribute at this year’s event.”
RMHC Mid-Penn Region supports not-for-profit groups whose programs directly benefit children in the areas of health care and medical research, including local Ronald McDonald Houses — in Hershey, Danville and Pittsburgh — as well as education and the arts, civic and social services. The chapter’s mission is to help develop, support and encourage programs which will enable children to live their lives to the fullest.
For more information or to make a donation, visit the Ronald McDonald House Charities® Mid-Penn Region website.
Melitos share RMHC experiences
This year’s speaker was Shawn Melito, who arrived at the event shortly before lunch with his wife, Sarah, and their two daughters, Abby and Isabelle. Shawn addressed the group of golfers during lunch after their 18-hole round, and talked about his family’s experience at the Ronald McDonald house in Hershey.
“Abby was only supposed to have one surgery, but ended up having three surgeries,” explained Shawn, who also serves on the RMHC golf outing coordinating committee. “The Ronald McDonald House was awesome. It had comfortable rooms, nice and clean.”
Abby, who goes to school at Hollidaysburg Senior High School, suffers from scoliosis and is bound to a wheelchair. She originally was slated to have just one spinal fusion surgery to help straighten the S-curvature of her spine, but ended up needing three surgeries total at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Ironically, she actually grew three inches after the surgeries.
“Abby stayed in the house the night before her surgeries,” said Sarah, Abby’s mom. “The house was really nice because it was so close to the hospital. When we had a last-minute request to use the Ronald McDonald House the day before (Abby’s second surgery), they said ‘give us five minutes’ and they had the room ready.”
Abby said she would “leave the talking up to mom and dad” during lunch at the RMHC golf outing, but did agree to help draw the names of the raffle prize winners.
Welcome back, Michaela!
The RMHC Mid-Penn Golf Outing welcomed back Michaela Nagel, who attended the event a few years earlier when it was held at Iron Masters Country Club in Martinsburg. Michaela, who deals with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) — a condition which causes tumors to grow in the nervous system, and in Michaela’s case, on her brain.
“We’ve stayed at the Danville House and the one in Manhattan,” said Andrea Nagel, Michaela’s mom. “We had wonderful experiences. They’re nice places to stay when you’re away from home.”
Michaela was not speaking at this year’s event, but she did attend with her mom. Michaela was very excited to return and see all of the great people. Michaela was supposed to attend last year’s event, but a doctor’s appointment caused her to miss it.
“The people are so nice and I really enjoy spending time with them,” said Michaela, who will be a senior at Mifflin County High School in Lewistown.
Golfers enjoy supporting this event
Mike Langer works for NPC, the event’s major corporate sponsor. He is a bindery specialist in the production plant, and when he first spots the RMHC golf outing pamphlets being printed, he knows it’s time to start planning.
“Since NPC folds the golf outing pamphlet, as soon as we see it, I get a hold of all the guys and get us signed up,” said Mike, who played with Carey Dicken, Al Gorman and Don Wolfhope. “Golfing with these guys is a lot of fun, and we like to help out.”
Another group from NPC — Eric Burket, Chet Piper, Curt Piper and Steve Wagner — participated and supported this year’s event. NPC’s corporate sponsorship team was represented on the golf course by owner and CEO Mark Barnhart, Tim McCarthy, Steve Hamm and Don Knisely.
Charlie O’Rourke, who works for New Pig Corporation, is good friends with one of the event board members, Timmy Cassidy. Timmy also works at New Pig.
“I’ve been playing in this tournament for over 10 years,” said Charlie, who golfed with Rick Guyer, Scott Dinges and Ray Fedeli in this year’s event. “It’s a fun time with a good group of people.”