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Hook, Line and Sinker

By Tony Hooker
Every community has them.  Most have more than one.

What is it you ask?  Each community has families that no matter what the event, you’ll see them there, helping in whatever way they can.

The River City is lucky that once such family, the Orwicks, chooses to call it home.

For the past six years, Betsy Orwick has volunteered countless hours of her time organizing the “Fight Like a Blue Devil” fundraiser.  To date, this school and community wide event has raised nearly $30,000 for the Mills Breast Cancer Center.  Not too bad for a small town, as I’ve written before. In addition to her work with the fundraiser, the self-described “HBIC” has also coached cheerleaders and is always immersed in school activities.

Her husband Travis is also very active in the school and community.  Driving home on Wednesday or Thursday nights between 5-11 p.m., the north side of town is lit by the comforting glow of field lights as the Orwicks apply paint to the field before home football contests.  Those lines, numbers and ribbons don’t just jump on there themselves, after all.    

I recently caught up with Travis and Betsy to find out what motivates them to put in all the effort.

How long have you been painting Russ Ghere Field?

[Travis] We took over about five years ago.

[Betsy] Yes, but we started back when (Mike) Beesley and those guys were doing it.

[Travis] We started it years ago, when we had to use hand pumps and we only had one sprayer!

Why do you keep doing it?

[Travis] For the kids.  

Who showed you how to do it?

[Travis] Stan Wienke taught me when I was in high school, back in 1988.  Mike Beesley and Steve Douglas showed me how to do the Villa Grove field.

When did you get the sprayer that made things a little bit easier?

Stan’s (Wienke) the one that got it, the year he was here.  

In addition to their field work, the Orwicks have also been involved in the VGH JFL program for years, so I asked him about that, as well.

How long have you been involved in JFL?

About 13 years.  

Are you going to keep doing that, too?

Yes.  

Why?  

Somebody needs to do it.  <laughs> I’ve been around it long enough to know all the ins and outs and what might happen.  

How long do you see yourself being involved in field painting and JFL?

As long as I can.  As long as people want me! <smiles>

In addition to their long-time involvement with the school, the Orwicks have also been involved in Ag Days for the past several years by organizing the Demolition Derby.  

Giving back to your community.  Being involved.  Helping others.  All great traits to display, but also unfortunately all too rare, in these days of me first.  The next time you see them out and about, tell them thank you.  Or better yet, show up at the field on a Wednesday or Thursday evening in the fall when you see the lights shining.   They’ll be glad you did.  And maybe, just maybe, so will you.  

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