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

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 […]