By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
SOUTHGATE – Costumed characters delighted children as their heroes from stories and screen greeted them at a Shriner Hospitals for Children fundraiser July 30 at Crystal Gardens Market Center Park, 13631 Eureka.
Food, face painting and activities provided entertainment for children, while also introducing parents to Crystal Garden’s newest venue.
Crystal Gardens event planner Cindy Nerowski was pleased to run a fundraiser for the Shriners, whose hospitals helped her daughter 16 years ago when she burned her hands on a backyard grill. Rachel, now 17, has fully recovered from the burns.
Nerowski said fundraisers are important to the hospitals, which treat children regardless of a family’s ability to pay.
Nerowski said the event went well, with children enjoying the activities and a good turnout for a first-time event.
Dawn Roels, one of Crystal Gardens’ owners, agreed that the event went well and the venue had made a good impression on newcomers, some of whom inquired about event pricing for the venue.
Roels said the costumed characters, provided by Carey Ann’s Clown Caravan of Riverview, were the most popular draw for the children. She would like to see the fundraiser become an annual event.
“We would like to, with double the people, but it’s a good turnout this year,” Roels said.
Shriner Frank Doherty said he was pleased with the turnout, which overcame a slow start.
“We are just amazed at the number of kids coming with the moms and dads,” he said. “It’s fantastic.”
He said several children who had been helped by Shriner hospitals were in attendance, and they had approached him and thanked the Shriners for their help.
“Events like this are so special,” Doherty said. “We try to do as many events as we can. We thank the public for allowing us. People don’t know about us. We are kind of quiet and behind-the-scenes unless we are in a parade.”
Shriner Don Kincheloe said the children are their reason for being.
“If it wasn’t for the kids, we wouldn’t be doing what we are doing,” he said. “The hospitals – we have 22 of them – are all supplied for free for kids under the age of 18.”
He said the attendees bring a smile to his face.
“When you see people having fun and it’s for a good cause, that even makes it much more enjoyable,” he said. “They see the cause to be beneficial for the Shrine and that is why we are here – to help them any way we can.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)