Posts in category Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation

THANK YOU: Nearly $35,000 raised for kids in Medora on Giving Hearts Day 2022!

February 10th, 2022 is a day we won’t forget at the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.

Why? Because on Giving Hearts Day, more than 120 kind people and organizations had Medora in mind —and altogether, $34,360.77 was raised to support the Medora WISH program!

Those dollars will go a very long way in helping us accomplish the goal of Medora WISH: to help more kids attend the Medora Musical and other activities in town at no cost. We’ve already covered more than 5,000 tickets to the show since Medora WISH began in 2019—and we can’t wait to do even more!

We have plenty of people to give an extra “thank you” to for their kindness on Giving Hearts Day 2022, including:

  • Keith & Cathy Peltier, for kickstarting our efforts with a $10,000 matching gift
  • Duane & Paula McIntyre and an anonymous donor, who each contributed $5,000 to the cause
  • Stonehome Brewing Company in Bismarck for donating 15% of their sales from February 10th to Medora WISH
  • The fifty-four donors who chipped in at least $100

Whether you gave $10 or $10,000—we want you to know how special you are to Medora. Thank you for contributing to Medora WISH on Giving Hearts Day. Thanks to you, we’re even closer to our goal of someday welcoming kids to the Medora Musical at no cost forever.

The icing on our Giving Hearts Day cake was hearing Adam & Tay play some fabulous music at Stonehome Brewing Company in Bismarck that evening. It made us even more eager for the return of the Medora Musical this summer!

Support Pours In For Kids & Families in Medora on Giving Hearts Day 2022!

Support Pours In For Kids & Families in Medora on Giving Hearts Day 2022!

Each day in Medora, we strive to connect people to this historic place for positive, life changing experiences. And the more people we can serve, the better we feel!

That’s why on Giving Hearts Day 2022, we’re raising funds for Medora WISH: a program that helps us fund Kids FREE Weeks at the Medora Musical each summer. It’s one of our favorite initiatives at TRMF—and we’re thrilled that since 2019, we’ve helped more than 5,000 kids attend the Medora Musical and other attractions in Medora at no cost.

We’d be humbled by your support on this Giving Hearts Day. Click here to make a contribution to the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation!

We appreciated getting a shout-out on Good Day Dakota on KX News this morning:

“Someday, we want to make the Medora Musical free for kids always. What we do right now is host these Kids FREE Weeks, usually in July,” said Tim Olson, the Medora Foundation Communications Specialist.

Want to learn more about Medora WISH? Spend one minute watching this video!

Thank you for thinking of Medora on Giving Hearts Day. It’s because of you we’re able to connect even more kids to Medora!

Remembering Harold Schafer and His Medora Legacy on His Birthday

Remembering Harold Schafer and His Medora Legacy on His Birthday

“My guess is that if I have a legacy, it’s going to be Medora, North Dakota.”

Those were the words of our founder, Harold Schafer, during an interview in 1997. In that wide-ranging discussion, he spoke about his philosophy on hard work, his success as a businessman, and the revitalization of historic Medora that he helped kick-start.

“Medora is real. It has real history. It’s not quite so flashy as Six Flags Over Texas,” Harold said, “but Medora has a greatness to it also.”

It was a greatness that couldn’t have happened without Harold’s help. In 1962 he renovated the Rough Riders Hotel. A few years later, the show we now know as the Medora Musical debuted in the Burning Hills Amphitheatre. And in the decades that followed, a run-down cowtown had become one of the country’s most exciting destinations for tourism.

“You can walk around the parking lot [at the Burning Hills Amphitheatre] and find cars from 30 or 40 different states in one night at the show,” he marveled in 1997.

That was twenty-five years ago—and it just so happened that during that interview, Harold was asked, “What’s Medora going to look like 25 years from now?”

Harold’s answer might surprise you: “I haven’t the slightest idea!”

He continued, “I had no knowledge it would ever be where it is now. I had no outline in my mind that it would grow like this. And if it should continue to grow, I don’t know what it’s going to be. But I think it’s going to continue to grow.”

We wish Harold could see what Medora has become 25 years after that interview. We believe he’d be proud of it.

On this, Harold’s 110th birthday, we’re remembering our founder fondly. We invite you to watch this excerpt from that 1997 interview. Harold doesn’t just discuss Medora; he covers his legacy, his philosophy of work, and more. It’s a fascinating look at a remarkable man!

Medora WISH & Prairie Grit Team Up For Special Hunting Experience in the Badlands!

Medora WISH & Prairie Grit Team Up For Special Hunting Experience in the Badlands!

Looking for an excuse to smile today? Look no further than this video:

Video produced by Aaron Esquibel

This video was filmed in the fall, when a group of young outdoor enthusiasts brought their families out to the Medora area for a special hunting trip, made possible by Prairie Grit Adaptive Sports and our Medora WISH program!

If you aren’t familiar, Prairie Grit is a wonderful non-profit based in North Dakota that provides sporting opportunities for kids and adults with physical and mental disabilities. We couldn’t have been happier to partner with them for this outdoor adventure.

The kids roamed the Killdeer Mountains—successfully punched a deer tag—and explored Medora and Theodore Roosevelt National Park, taking special note of the region’s handicap-accessible features, such as paved hiking trails in the National Park.

Of course, they also took a ride on Manitou the Point to Point Zipline, grabbed some pizza, and took in the ever-exciting Medora Musical!

We love seeing the positive effects of Medora WISH—whether it’s granting thousands of kids free tickets to the Medora Musical, sponsoring one-of-a-kind VIP experiences, or adventures like this one.

If you’d like to learn more about Medora WISH, click here. PLUS, this Giving Hearts Day 2022 (February 10th), any donations we receive will go straight to Medora WISH, and will be matched up to $10,000!

Thanks to Aaron Esquibel for the video and photos of this adventure!

Related: Medora WISH & Prairie Grit in the news!

Construction of Accessible Elevator at Burning Hills Amphitheatre Has Begun!

Construction of Accessible Elevator at Burning Hills Amphitheatre Has Begun!

The Burning Hills Amphitheatre in Medora isn’t exactly a busy destination in December, but we sure are excited about some activity that’s underway there this winter!

Ground-moving and construction work is officially underway on a high-capacity elevator—a major piece of our Access Medora initiative. Here are a few photos of the project as it stands in early December:

And here’s a rendering of how the elevator will look once it’s complete:

This project is incredibly important to us at the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation. Why? Because it’s set to vastly improve the Medora Musical experience for guests with mobility challenges.

For years, those guests have depended on golf carts to enter and exit the amphitheatre. The carts shared a walkway designed for pedestrian traffic and becomes too congested when shared with carts. On busy nights, the wait to exit the amphitheatre can be as long as 45 to 60 minutes.

But once our high-capacity elevator is installed and ready, wait times will be drastically reduced—and the experience for our guests with mobility and sensory needs will be much improved. It will provide a safer, quicker, more enjoyable way to get into and out of the Burning Hills Amphitheatre.

We can’t wait to watch this project unfold over the coming months. And we’re grateful to the Engelstad Foundation, which provided a generous gift of $1 million to get the elevator project off the ground!

Click here to visit the TRMF website and learn more about Access Medora.

“It Never Felt Like Work”: UND Alumni Magazine features TRMF President Randy Hatzenbuhler

“It Never Felt Like Work”: UND Alumni Magazine features TRMF President Randy Hatzenbuhler

Friends of Medora will see a familiar face in the pages of the latest University of North Dakota Alumni Magazine:

The President of our organization (and 1985 UND graduate), Randy Hatzenbuhler, shared his journey to the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation—and why 34 years later, he’s still in love with Medora.


“You’re going to die in Medora.”

That was Randy Hatzenbuhler’s wife’s blunt assessment after he gave a third three-year commitment to continue working for the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF). The nonprofit organization runs the Medora Musical and dozens of other business enterprises in the gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota.

Now, after nearly 34 years with the organization, Randy, ’85, admits with a chuckle that she may have been right.

“I knew at that point (after six years with the organization) that I loved it,” said Randy. “It’s more work than people might understand, but it never felt like work. Hours didn’t matter. You are in a place where people are having fun. They love being here and you’re getting to help take care of them.”


That’s just a snippet of the UND Alumni Magazine’s piece. Click here to read the entire feature story on Randy!

Rise Up: Celebrating Our TRMF Volunteers—and the Bright Days Ahead in Medora

“You are the embodiment of every value that the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation holds dear.”

That message from TRMF Volunteer Coordinator Peg Gunther was central to the 2021 Volunteer Appreciation Events, held in Fargo and Medora at the beginning of October.

The events—with the theme “We Rise”—capped what was a historic summer in Medora, largely thanks to the tremendous help of more than 600 passionate volunteers.

After months of wonderful work by these folks, we were glad to have the opportunity to serve them—to share laughter, memories, music, gratitude, and good news.

Good news like this: a $100,000 challenge donation from Dr. Lana and Warren Schlecht to pay for renovations at the Spirit of Work Lodge for volunteers in Medora!

Volunteers also heard the great news that longtime volunteer Marlene Hoffart made a significant six-figure donation to put Point to Point Park over the finish line—and ensure the new addition of a lazy river, a splash pad, pickleball courts, and much more is ready for families to enjoy by summer of 2022!

We also had the pleasure of sharing some special volunteers’ own stories with the group. They heard from Mike Johnson, a 15-year volunteer with a passion for sharing Medora with children:

And they heard the emotional story of Lonnie Bonner, who suffered a stroke in February—then persevered to volunteer for her 15th year in Medora:

At the conclusion of the events, Peg Gunther reminded our volunteers that they defy all preconceptions. “Many of us are retired or semi-retired, and at a stage in our lives where we can be made to feel like our best years are behind us,” Gunther said. “Well look around! You blow that stereotype out of the water.”


It’s impossible to overstate how much TRMF values its devoted team of volunteers. We can’t wait to see you all again in 2022!

Here’s a message of thanks to our volunteers on behalf of the whole Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation Team:

Relive the 2021 Medora Hot Air Balloon Rally & Badlands Kite Fest!

The final weekend of the Medora Musical had us looking skyward.

We sent off summer in Medora in a picture-perfect way: by inviting kite fliers of all skill levels to the 5th Annual Badlands Kite Fest. Watch the video above to meet a few of the kite lovers who made the weekend special!

And on Sunday, September 12th, we were treated to another colorful sight: the 18th Annual Medora Hot Air Balloon Rally!

Although less-than-ideal weather conditions required the balloons to be tethered to the ground for safety, it still made for an amazing finale to what was a wonderful summer in the Badlands. Enjoy a few photos below!

2021 Summer Wrap-Up: Thank You from TRMF!

2021 Summer Wrap-Up: Thank You from TRMF!

Another summer has come to an end in Medora. But it was one we won’t soon forget.

In 2021, we had a celebration in Medora. We took hikes on a brand-new trail. We ate a whole lot of steak at the Pitchfork Steak Fondue. We made memories with our loved ones. We returned to old traditions, and even started some new ones.

And of course, we enjoyed the Greatest Show in the West. In fact, 123,992 people saw the Medora Musical this summer—our second-highest attendance ever.

To say thank you to everyone who made it such a memorable few months in Medora, we put a quick video together, featuring many faces of TRMF.

Enjoy—and we’ll see you again soon!

Episode 5 of the Wisdom Chain Podcast: Daniel Gannarelli on the Wisdom Chain in Medora and on the Hockey Rink

Episode 5 of the Wisdom Chain Podcast: Daniel Gannarelli on the Wisdom Chain in Medora and on the Hockey Rink

How do words become wisdom?

How does wisdom become character?

To trace the answers to these questions and more, TRMF Development Team Member Daniel Gannarelli spoke to round out the first annual Wisdom Chain Day in Medora on June 15th, 2021.

In this final episode of our miniseries, the Wisdom Chain Podcast, hear Daniel explain how the Wisdom Chain Philosophy has come to life in his work, not only in Medora, but as a hockey coach.

And don’t forget to listen to the first four episodes of the Wisdom Chain Podcast, and hear from all of the great speakers who joined us in Medora to share their wisdom, leadership, and character!

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