Pumpkin giveaway helps fund Special Olympics
ALMONT TWP. — Ten years ago Marcia Redd decided to tag along when her husband, Howard, went to plow under the remains of a friend’s pumpkin field. She decided to pick a few for Halloween decorations and ended up filling the back of a pickup.
That led to an annual fund raiser for the Wertz Warriors that has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Michigan’s Special Olympics. Last year alone Redd raised $15,000 handing out pumpkins in front of her husband’s business on Van Dyke Road north of Almont.
Other than raising money for Special Olympics, Marcia said the best thing about her pumpkin stand is “the little kids.” She said she has a steady stream of people at the stand, especially on the weekends.
Howard, Marcia said, has been a Wertz Warrior since 1984. Every winter the group holds a 900-mile snowmobile adventure zigzagging across northern Michigan. The event was created in 1982 by Mt. Clemens businessman, Vic Wertz, who played for the Detroit Tigers 1947-52 and died in 1983.
The ride continued on and has raised more than $10 million to support Special Olympics in the years since.
Wertz Warriors, who supply their own snowmobiles and parts, commit to raise $2,000 the first year they ride and that commitment increases to $3,500 by their third year.
Marcia raised $400 her first year with her pumpkin promotion. After filling her husband’s pickup with pumpkins, “I couldn’t stop,” Marcia recalled. Howard, who’s an electrician, told her he needed the truck for work the next day. So, she made a pile in front of the business and stuck a handmade sign next to it.
She went back to the pumpkin patch the next year, got more and raised $600. Her pumpkin collection has increase a little every year since.
Marcia said farmers around Romeo and Capac let her pick over their fields and Martinko Signs in Shelby Township has donated signs to line the road either side of Redd Electric and the Wertz Warriors park one of its three equipment trailers on the property for the month of October.
Marcia can be found giving away pumpkins and accepting donations just about every day from Oct. 2 through the day before Halloween. Nothing goes to waste. Pig farmers and deer hunters pick up the leftovers.
Marcia said one of Howard’s snowmobiling buddies invited him on his first Wertz Warrior run in 1984 and he was hooked. Now 70, Howard will join more than 70 riders and support volunteers in Chesterfield Township on Jan. 28.
They will drive up to West Branch for the weeklong ride that will end in Petoskey Feb. 3. Noting that he won’t be able to ride forever, Howard said the Werzt Warriors are always looking for new members. People can find out more about the group by visiting www.wertzwarriors.com or www.somi.org.
Marcia said that while it pretty much began as a boys club, Wertz Warriors is now open to anyone with a passion for snowmobiling and a desire to help the less fortunate.
She used to ride with Howard, but six years ago Marcia broke her hip and the doctor said, “Cut that out,” so now she attends the opening and closing ceremonies. But she hasn’t quit picking pumpkins. Marcia goes gleaning a couple of times a week, usually with high school students who need to do some community service. But she added, she can always use some extra help.
This time of year Marcia can be found close to the pumpkin covered trailer in front of Redd Electrical Contracting, 4169 Van Dyke Rd. Stop by, pick up a jack-o-lantern or a pumpkin pie and make a donation to Special Olympics.
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