Barbara Hendel: Volunteers ensure smooth sailing for the Mills Race and its parties

·4 min read

Jun. 20—HAPPY Father's Day to all fathers and father figures. My dad passed several months before I was hired at The Blade. I know he would have been proud of me and would have enjoyed seeing my face in the paper twice a week. I remember buying gifts for him — you know, a necktie, a coffee mug I made one year that he kept on his desk forever, or some grill equipment, a battery-operated bug swatter, and more. If your father is still living, spend some time with him today or call him if you can't be there. We all get busy, but it only takes a few moments.

Speaking of dads, are there any better volunteers than dad? Mine always lent a hand when I had a school project. We made a Jamestown fort and a houseboat out of popsicle sticks. He was an executive and part owner of the former Vroman Foods, which made Sicle brand ice cream products, so he had an endless access to lots of popsicle sticks. Then when I was an adult he helped me with a piña colada party I was hosting by playing bartender. He came to the rescue for my lumpy spinach dip by putting it in the blender. Alas, it turned out guacamole green, so guests who didn't like guacamole didn't touch it and guacamole lovers didn't eat it either, since it tasted like spinach.

The fond memories are endless. But getting back on track, he always volunteered his services with a big smile. Today, more than ever, we need more dads — and moms, too, and sisters and brothers, grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins — who are glad to volunteer.

A lot of things wouldn't happen without volunteers. A great example is the 97th running of the Invitational Mills Trophy Race hosted by the Toledo Yacht Club and Storm Trysail that was held June 11 with social events before and after. Everyone has read by now about the winners of the race that started in 1907 and included yachts ranging in size from 22 feet 70 feet. (If you haven't yet, this year's winners were Flat Stanley with the Mills Trophy, Abracadabra with the Governor's Cup, and InfraRed with the President's Trophy.)

All the participants had a great time, but if it weren't for the volunteers, the Mills would not have happened.

Ron Soka, chairman, and his wife Kaye Soka, chairman of communications and just about everything, have been at the helm of the Mills committee for many moons. There's also honorary chairman David Spiers and chairman emeritus Don Wood.

But lets not forget Toledo Yacht Club commodore Jim Balogh and the club's members and others, many of whom are power boaters, who spend endless hours to make the race and social events happen: Ed Theisen, Steve Harris, Michelle Glanville, John Glanville, Dave Ryan, Ron Gabel, Jonathan Ward, Geri and Tom Buckley, Becky and Barry Vincent, Chris Davis, Barb and Jerry Chauvin, Doug Haag, and many others, totaling 60-some volunteers.

Surrounding the big race were the Mills Masters party, for salty dogs who have raced the Mills at least 25 times, including Sybil Turin who was on the first women's crew; the Mills Awards dinner for the previous year's winners who get their photos taken with the big shining silver trophies, as skippers tell their tall tales; and the Mills Race kickoff party at TYC with food and live music and the cannon that booms to welcome each boat as it arrives. But not all came by water as their boats were already anchored out by the Toledo Harbor Light, the start of the race.

Among the experienced skippers and crews were those that race just for fun, and for some of their crew members, it was a first-time experience sailing through the night. Once at the destination, South Bass Island's Put-in-Bay, there was a welcome party at the Put-in-Bay Yacht Club, which also hosted the awards breakfast the next day.

Thanks also go to the generous sponsors: Sailing Inc., Frosty Bar, Regatta Craft Mixers, Mount Gay Rum, Storm Trysail Club, Sync Creative, Korbel California Champagne, and US Sailing. Skippers in the Mills Race were all responsible for their yachts and crew members.

But it reminds me that as the boating season gets underway, remember to follow the rules of safety including checking that your vessel is seaworthy, making sure life jackets are on board for all passengers, and obeying navigation rules. When entering a port, green buoys are kept to the port (left) side. When leaving a port, red buoys are kept to port side and green buoys to the starboard side (right).

IF YOU are not into boating, then pick your passion and volunteer for some other organization. It is a rewarding experience and you meet a lot of new friends. Maybe volunteer at the Marathon Classic, the Solheim Cup, a nonprofit organization like a food bank, an organization to help the less fortunate get back on their feet, Habitat for Humanity, an arts organization, children's summer camps, downtown Toledo festivals, or so many more.

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