By Marianne Mueller


A group of friends came together in support of the HOPE Foundation and its mission to help with needs to be filled.

Hononegah Community High School’s (HCHS) HOPE Foundation – (Hononegah Opportunities for Public Education) celebrated America’s pastime on Saturday. Oct. 23. The evening was full of fun and laughter. When entering the American Center, (American Legion) HCHS students offered guests Cracker Jacks, complete with a toy surprise inside and candy bars. 

Baseball attire was cleverly assembled, with a good number of Cubs or White Sox fans in the room. Others honored the Rockford Peaches or other original teams. Village President John Peterson dressed in a likeness of Harry Caray. 

On the dinner tables were bags of shelled peanuts. Glass jars were filled with caramel corn. Plastic baseball caps adorned glass shelves. Honoring long time Hononegah Coach Larry Weber was a stunning enlarged photo of Weber Field. 

Emcee Andy Gannon kept energy levels up and the fun rolling all night.  Joe Locke of Hits DJ Service and radio personality- known as “The Jock that Rocks” provided musical entertainment. Hallie Johnston ran a photo booth which created extra laughs and memorable keepsakes. 

Decorations were done with great thought and love by HOPE Foundation President, Tiffany Warren. Event coordinators were Kelly Rosik and Diane Eymann. 

Throughout the event 50/50 raffles brought in hefty amounts. Cash drawings plus a drawing of an “Early Bird” winner created instant happiness. 

Every year the Gem Shop & Diamond Source teams up with the HOPE Foundation in donating a beautiful ring. All money that was raised from ticket sales of the ring go toward the Jan Modersohn Memorial Scholarship. This year’s piece was a 14k yellow gold “Homerun” ring with a Princess Cut Rubelite and accents totaling 0.17 cttw. This ring has a value of $1,550.

The scholarship was developed to honor the memory of former Rockton Village Clerk, Jan Modersohn who had a true passion for youth and education. Gem Shop owner, Kevin Mueller is also an 1980 HCHS graduate designs a ring which is raffled off, now an ongoing 10-year tradition. Expanding on this donation, in 2017 Mueller began working with a teacher at HHS to bring a segment on jewelry into an art class to the high school. 

In the back sections of the building high quality silent auction items filled tables, ready to go home later in the evening to the winning bidders. 

Before enjoying a wonderful buffet made by the Hoffman House a moment of silence in remembrance was held for HCHS alumni Millicent Christopher who came up with themes for each HOPE Foundation Touch of spring event. She was also instrumental in decorating perfectly to each theme. Also honored in a moment of silence was Coach Larry Weber. Secretary Nicola Weldon gave the Invocation. 

HOPE Vice President Tom Polaski welcomed everyone to this fall event. “We are trying to keep the HOPE Foundation name in front of us. We have done school projects, the most recent are brand new trophy cases,” Polaski said. He added, “This is money well spent and the case is beautiful, and it will hold the State Trophy for the Indians baseball team.”

Polaski thanked everyone who made the evening’s event possible along with everyone who donated. He asked the Foundation Board stand to be recognized. Another recent project is support that given through a grant provided to the World Language Department. 

Special thanks are given to Scott Robinson, Jennifer Osorio, Kristie Clark, Jessica Barton, Lauren Killion and Riley Rolette. Different members of the BOE helped in different capacities. Cathy Bellich was the DJ sponsor and Sipert & Co. LLP was silent auction sponsors. 

Polaski announced that since there were 41 tickets leftover the chance to buy a ticket for $50 was presented to allow an increase in cash drawings. 

After dinner Emcee Gannon had everyone get up for a “Seventh Inning Stretch.” He led in an unforgettable version of “Take me out to the Ball Game.’

Winners of the costume contest were Justin and Nicole Johnson who fully captured the spirit of the Rockford Peaches. Jackie Meiborg emerged the winner of the ring. 

Finishing out the event many hit the dance floor to show their moves. Four $500 winners were announced along with the Grand Prize Drawing winner of $2,000. 

This year marks the 20th of HOPE Foundation fundraisers. The Hope Foundation first came into being in 1997 under the direction of then Superintendent, Ralph Marshal. A Heritage mural, tutorial programs, teacher grants, scholarships, a purchase of two AED’s for the athletic department, retractable batting cages, a 2014 renovation feasibility study, power tools for the woodshop and construction lab, $25,000 to be used towards new digital scoreboards, and the purchase of a 40 acre tract of land for future use are some of the way’s the HOPE Foundation has supported community and educational needs. 

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