GARRETTSVILLE - Ed Ridenbaugh hails from Garrettsville's backyard rival. That might be why he is so passionate about seeing the village get back on its feet following Sunday's devastating fire that destroyed or displaced 13 businesses in the downtown area.
A Windham native, Ridenbaugh created the Rebuild Garrettsville Facebook page.
"Garrettsville is very personal to me because that was my stomping ground growing up," Ridenbaugh said. "With how close Windham and Garrettsville are, even though we're rivals in athletics, I know that (Garrettsville) would be there to support Windham if something like this happened to our community."
Ridenbaugh said social media was the perfect way for him to do his part.
"When I heard about the fires, the first thing I did was create a Facebook page and just see what happens from there," Ridenbaugh said. "I honestly had no idea how huge it would become. In less than 24 hours, the page already had 7,000 'likes.' On Tuesday morning, the page hit 10,000, and now we're up to over 12,000 likes.
"We've had comments from people all over the country sharing concern or prayers, or asking how they could get involved," Ridenbaugh said. "We even had a member of the U.S. military who is from Windham but is stationed in South Korea comment and share her concern."
The chief marketing officer at PMG Chocolatier in Niles, one of Ridenbaugh's projects includes fundraising events for community causes.
Earlier this month, Ridenbaugh and PMG helped organize a talent showcase in Youngstown to raise money for a family who lost their daughter to illness.
With the support of his company, Ridenbaugh decided to bring the PMG Chocolatier All Star Talent Showcase to Garrettsville. The event will be held at 7 p.m. April 11 at Garrettsville Middle School's Iva Walker Auditorium.
"We wanted to bring an event into town while this event is still fresh in people's minds and they are trying to find ways to help out," Ridenbaugh said.
Tickets will go on sale at 9 a.m. this morning.
"With how much support the page has received, I expect the event to sell out within a half-hour (Wednesday) morning," he said.
Shanelle Waggoner is the owner of The 8th Count Dance Center, and her group of youth dancers were involved with Ridenbaugh's fundraiser in Youngstown. Ridenbaugh said Waggoner was one of the first calls for talent he made.
Herself a native of Windham and owner of a studio located in downtown Garrettsville, Waggoner said he jumped at the chance to join up again with Ridenbaugh's cause.
"The kids at my (studio) all have either relatives who worked at this businesses or have shopped there before," Waggoner said. "It is extremely important for them to help out in some way."
Waggoner said that she expects to see her young dancers give their all at the event to support their friends and family.
"It's one thing for my dancers to get up and perform at a recital, but I saw their hearts on display when they danced (in Youngstown) to help people that they've never met," Waggoner said.
"I can't even imagine how more much we're going to see from (the dancers) because this is Garrettsville, and this cause hits so much closer to home."