By Stephanie Beach, Local columnist
---- — Barbara and Renny Challoner of Wisconsin and Florida made their first visit to Traverse City in August. They returned home not only with memories of a beautiful area but with a wonderful impression of the people who live here.
"We had the most delightful thing happen," Barbara said.
The Challoners' visit coincided with their anniversary and so the couple made reservations for dinner at Amical in downtown Traverse City. While waiting for their table, Renny mentioned to the hostess that they were celebrating their 48th wedding anniversary.
Barbara and Renny were seated and enjoyed their meal. When their waitress came to ask if they were interested in dessert, she also told them that their dinner had been paid for by two young women who were "hopeless romantics." The local young women overheard Renny saying that they were celebrating their anniversary and wanted to pay for their meal but remain anonymous.
"We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Traverse City. We had no idea how beautiful it was and can't wait to come back," Barbara said. "And on top if it to have that happen. We want those two young women to know that we're going to pay it forward. We'll come back and treat someone else."
Bea Stone chose to forego presents for her 87th birthday party Oct. 1 at Michigan Shores and instead asked for donations to Benzie Area Christian Neighbors.
Friends responded generously and her "birthday bash" netted more than $4,000 for food pantry purchases.
People who were key to the success of Bea's party were Peg Lawrenson, Steve Wentworth, Susan Munzt, Susan and Jack Van Maastricht and June Deering who provided wine, food and decorations. Jim MacKenzie and Al Hyams get a round of applause for their job as hot dog men, while Susan Kirkpatrick, Roger Blue, Charlotte Nametz, John Heald and Dorothy McDougall all made wonderful musical contributions.
Linda Marschner and Geri Valentine, board members of the Down Syndrome Association of Northwest Michigan (DSANM), were privileged to attend the annual conference of the National Down Syndrome Congress. They returned anxious to share what they learned with local members, as well as to make informational materials and handouts available for review so that they can benefit local families.
Linda and Geri wrote that none of this would have been possible without the insight and financial support of local entrepreneur Tim Rice who has taken a true interest in the DSANM and is dedicated to "giving back" in a substantial way.
"He made it a priority that we attend this premiere, national conference," Linda and Geri wrote. "He contacted DSANM and asked about our vision and goals and being the successful businessman that he is, gave us some wonderful direction and suggestions as to where we might grow as a group. He made a long-term commitment to support us financially.
" In addition to Tim's passion and support for our group, others who make his financial support possible include his business partners Wendy Corey, Mike and Denise Busley and Shelly Popp," Linda and Geri wrote. "The DSANM extends a huge debt of gratitude to him and his partners for making this latest trip possible and for his ongoing support in DSANM's awareness and advocacy efforts, promoting living well with Down syndrome right here in northern Michigan."