a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bring Your Own Big Wheel Race 2010

Bring Your Own Big Wheel Race 2009, originally uploaded by alexisgallisa.

CHARLEROI, Pa. – Ken Wiltz is lending his name as he retires as director of Mon Valley YMCA to a zany race where adults will wear silly costume and ride down a steep hill on tricycles built for children.

The first Ken Wiltz Big Wheel Race will take place at 4 p.m. Aug. 29 on the steep road leading down to the YMCA off Route 88 in Carroll Township.

"There is a lot of interest. We won't know how many people will show up until that day," said Lorys Crisafulli, who suggested the race after learning about a hugely popular race of this kind that takes place every year in San Francisco.

Crisafulli, 84, of Monongahela, seems to have few inhibitions as she is known around the globe for producing a 2009 calendar featuring photographs of her and 11 of her older female friends posing semi-nude. A follow-up calendar is in production for 2011. That one will will include photographs of the women posing naughty with older guys.

Meanwhile, Wiltz, 65, has always kept a low profile in his 40-plus years at the YMCA. That is until now. He, too, took off some of his clothing to pose for the calendar.

Ken Wiltz, executive director of Mon Valley YMCA, and Janet Ratchford, a retired Monongahela nurse, pose as Mr. and Miss November for a 2011 charity calendar featuring a dozen scantily clad older women from the Monongahela, Pa., area.

As for the race: "It's a neat concept. We're looking forward to it a lot," Wiltz said.

Participants in the race must be 18 years old. Registration is $5 and will be accepted the day of the race, or by calling the YMCA at 724-483-8077, or the Monongahela Area Chamber of Commerce, 724-258-5919.

Wiltz surely will be missed at the YMCA, which was little more than a near-vacant storefront when he began working there.

"It was just a Ping-Pong table and offices," said Wiltz, who began his career there as a janitor in 1968 following service in the military police in Vietnam.

Struggling for money in the 1970s, the Mon Valley YMCA planned to hold a ravioli dinner until someone accidentally pulled the plug to the freezer where the main course was stored.

The more than 100 dozen homemade ravioli had melted into "one big blob" by the day of the fundraiser, said Ken Wiltz, the Y's executive director.

"We went out and bought spaghetti and turned it into a spaghetti dinner," said Wiltz, while recalling one of his favorite memories after working at the nonprofit for four decades.

He became director in 1973 after achieving a four-year education degree at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh.

The Mon Valley YMCA had earlier formed in a merger of the Charleroi and Monongahela chapters and had grown to include an outdoor swimming pool in a rural section of Carroll near Taylor Run Road and Route 88.

Under Wiltz's leadership, it has undergone two multimillion-dollar expansions. In 1986, the YMCA built an indoor, stainless-steel swimming pool, racquetball courts and a gymnasium. A new educational wing and wellness center opened six years ago.

(Portions of this story first appeared in the Observer-Reporter newspaper, Washington, Pa.)


Anonymous said...

How do you get a copy of that Charity Calendar???

Scott Beveridge said...

I'll check to see if there are any left.