NILES - Marisa Vincent returned home recently after being hospitalized through the summer following an accident in May with a Bobcat loader.
To help celebrate, a special welcome was held last week at Eastwood Field for the 7-year-old Howland girl. Hosted by the Marisa Kay Project, the fundraiser included music, games, children's activities, a Chinese auction and dunk tank.
Event coordinators Cindy Rogers and Megan Gardner said 17 amateurs and restaurants competed in a chili competition. Rogers said the money raised will be used to complete handicapped modifications to Marisa's home and to pay for a handicapped accessible van.
Marisa is the daughter of Crystal Bendel and Ron Vincent.
She spent the first several months following her accident at Akron Children's Hospital and then was transferred to Cleveland Clinic Children's Rehab Center, where she has received therapy focusing mainly on her left leg.
Rogers said Vincent was discharged from the Cleveland hospital in late August. She will receive outpatient physical therapy at Akron Children's and will continue to need surgeries throughout her adult life.
Awards were presented in the following categories:
Judge's Choice in the Professional Division:
First Place - Wing Warehouse, Niles, with their House Recipe
Second Place - Ice House Inn, Austintown, with their Full House Chili
Third Place - Robbins Avenue Pizza, Niles, with their Pizza Shop's Chili
Judge's Choice in the Amateur Division:
First Place - Joy Squibbs, Hubbard, with her Smokin-Hot Chili Queen chili
Second Place - Ross Thompson, Howland, with his 9Alarm Beef Bonanza
Third Place - Mike Hileman, Austintown, with his Smokin Tom Turkey Chili
People's Choice Winners:
Professional - Aulizio's Catering and Banquet Center with their White Chicken Chili
Amateur - Joy Squibbs of Hubbard with her Smokin-Hot Chili Queen.
She is scheduled for two additional surgeries this month.
Fifty percent of each benefit ticket purchased for the event is being given to the Marisa Kay Project, Gardner said.
Donations to help the family can be sent to the Marisa Kay Project, 750 North Road S.E., Warren, OH 44484.
In addition to the tailgate party, festivities included a special cheer performance by the Dream Team, the cheer group that Vincent belonged prior to her accident; a personal thank you by Marisa was displayed on the playboard with the help of MDI Studios; and a display of hearts were shot up into the air during a special fireworks by Pyrotecnico in Marisa's honor.