Posts tagged North Dakota

Medora WISH: 1,400+ free Medora Musical tickets, one VIP experience in 2022!

Medora WISH: 1,400+ free Medora Musical tickets, one VIP experience in 2022!

A growing program whose mission is to make Medora a lower-cost experience for families had another great year in 2022!

Medora WISH was created and initially funded by Don & Pat Clement and Michael & Vicki Zaun in 2019. Since then, hundreds of people have contributed to the fund that allows us to host Medora WISH Kids Free weeks each summer at the Medora Musical — and more than a dozen people and organizations have pledged $25,000 or more to the cause!

In 2022, 1,425 tickets to the Greatest Show in the West were provided to kids age 17 and under during Medora WISH Kids Free Week, July 2 – 10!

But the Medora WISH fun didn’t stop there.

Later in July, we welcomed 16-year-old Alyssa Koenig to Medora for a VIP experience, in partnership with the Anne Carlsen Center in Jamestown! Alyssa, along with her parents and grandparents, enjoyed ice cream, built a custom stuffed animal, and took in great Medora attractions like the Medora Magic Show and the Medora Musical.

“The one thing Alyssa seems to love in life is music,” said Jim Koenig, Alyssa’s father. “When music is on, she just smiles.”

“Her eyes lit up when she met the cast of the Medora Musical,” said Kim Koenig, Alyssa’s mother. “What a special experience for our family.”

To learn more about Medora WISH, click here or visit with our Development Team at 701-223-4800. We invite you to watch the video below to learn more about how Medora WISH came to be, hear from its founders, and see more of Alyssa’s special visit to Medora!

John O’Leary shares optimistic message with employees & friends of TRMF

John O’Leary shares optimistic message with employees & friends of TRMF

“Why me?” “Who cares?” “What more can I do?”

Those three questions were at the center of a tremendous message delivered by John O’Leary to employees and friends of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation on Monday, July 11, 2022.

John’s appearance in the Burning Hills Amphitheatre was a gift to TRMF from two generous supporters of our organization — and a great many of our full-time and seasonal workforce were in attendance to hear what he had to say!

John O’Leary’s story is remarkable: when he was nine years old, he was burned on 100 percent of his body in an accidental explosion. Doctors gave him a 1 percent chance to survive. He overcame the odds — and today, he’s a bestselling author and motivational speaker who has presented in 49 states and 17 countries.

John shared with the audience in Medora that those three questions — Why me? Who cares? What more can I do? — can be framed in a negative or a positive way. He encouraged those listening to be victors instead of victims, and to live with gratitude and inspiration.

During the peak of Medora’s busy season, it was a great message for the hundreds of hard-working folks who make our TRMF mission possible! We’re grateful to have been given the gift of John O’Leary’s story.

“Work hard, then play hard!” Honoring Mike & Peggy Bullinger with the 2022 Bully Spirit Award

The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF) is proud to announce the recipients of the 2022 Bully Spirit Award: Mike & Peggy Bullinger of Fargo, North Dakota.

Mike & Peggy Bullingerreceived the award on June 11, 2022 as part of Rough Riders Roundup, a yearly gathering of friends and supporters of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.

Mike & Peggy embody and live by this phrase: “Work hard, then play hard.” The pair purchased Western Products, a small home improvement company, in 1984—and grew it into the thriving, family-owned business it is today.

Their success in business has allowed them to give back to causes and communities for which they care, including the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation. Mike & Peggy own a home in Medora, and have contributed philanthropically to several TRMF projects, including Bully Pulpit Golf Course, the Life Skills Center, the Little Bully Pulpit Mini Golf Course, and the Old Town Hall Theater.

“Medora is better because of Mike and Peggy,” said TRMF President Randy Hatzenbuhler while presenting the Bullingers with the award. “They have been benefactors to almost everything TRMF has done. There’s hardly a project in this town they haven’t been a part of.”

In accepting the award, Mike Bullinger told stories about the fond memories his family has made in Medora over the years.

“We love Medora,” he said. “And our grandkids love Medora! We were out here on a weekend about a year ago, and at the end of the weekend I asked my grandkids: ‘Would you rather be at the lake, or be in Medora?’ And they all said Medora.”

The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation established the Bully Spirit Award in 2018 as a way to honor individuals or couples who have committed extraordinary effort toward furthering the mission and vision of TRMF: to connect people to historic Medora for positive, life-changing experiences.

Watch the full presentation of the Bully Spirit Award!

Volunteers Refresh the Medora Children’s Park

Volunteers Refresh the Medora Children’s Park

For Charles Cullen, spending an afternoon in Medora raking rubber mulch meant coming full circle.

“My wife and I were here 21 years ago helping build this,” the 87-year-old said of the Medora Children’s Park. “It’s been well used over the years. I’m just thankful that my physical condition is such that I can still do this.”

Cullen was one of about 75 volunteers who spent Saturday, May 14th, 2022 breathing new life into the Medora Children’s Park – which was built by volunteers over the course of five days in 2001.

Related: The Dickinson Press: Volunteers Gather in Medora to Renovate Children’s Park

Bob Holzer was there in 2001, too. This time, he said, “I feel older! But it’s a happy feeling.”

The wooden playground received a fresh coat of stain and about 70 tons of recycled rubber mulch – a softer, safer material underfoot for kids using the park. The volunteer crew, which included the President of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, Randy Hatzenbuhler, applied plenty of elbow grease to get the work done in a day.

“We were joking about the amount of ibuprofen we’d need after that!” Hatzenbuhler said. “But not one person seemed to complain about any of it. In fact, the coordinator of the project, Peggy Gunther, said they’re all asking, ‘What’s the next project?’ Every organization should be able to experience that – when people care that much.”

“You don’t get to experience this kind of goodwill every day,” Gunther said. She serves the TR Medora Foundation as Director of Volunteer Activities.

Related: KX News: Volunteers spruce up decades-old park in Medora

Bravera Bank brought a team of about a dozen employees out for the volunteer event. The bank made a generous contribution to TRMF to make the renovation project possible. “We’re bankers, right? So we don’t usually work with our hands much!” said David Ehlis, the President and CEO of Bravera, who also cut the ribbon on the park at a grand reopening ceremony. “It’s great to be able to help the community.”

Gunther says events like this — and the hundreds of people who volunteer their time and energy to help the TR Medora Foundation operate during busy summers — inspire her. “This is what humankind is really all about. You work side by side, you have fun, you treat each other with kindness and goodness, and you make it happen.”

The Medora Children’s Park is located in downtown Medora, and is free and open to the public every day from sunrise to sunset.

Bully Pulpit Golf Course set to open mid-May with two brand-new holes

The following story first appeared in our new print publication, Notes From the Trail.

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After a year of diligent work to secure the long-term future of Bully Pulpit Golf Course, golfers have much to look forward to in the coming season — including two brand-new holes and an improved, championship-level experience.

“After being a par 69 course in 2021, we’re excited to bring par up to 71 this year,” said Clubhouse Manager and PGA Head Golf Professional Patrick Rominger. “That’s thanks to two brand-new holes that we’re really proud of.”

The new Hole #8 from above. Par 4.

First is the new #8: a par 4 that will test players’ strategic skills. “It’s a tight tee shot,” Patrick said. “And golfers will have to use a shorter club as they approach the green.”

“#8 also has a really great Badlands backdrop from the green.” he added.

The new Hole #12 from above. Par 5.

The new par 5 #12 is all about risk versus reward. “If you’re aggressive off the tee, you can cut the corner off,” said General Manager Kirby Scharmann. “But some of the native grasses in that area could get you into trouble.”

Golfers can expect a smoother ride in 2022: more than have of Bully Pulpit’s cart paths have been upgraded from asphalt to concrete. “It should make for a more pleasant ride between holes,” Patrick said. “And it helps us prolong the lifespan of our carts!” Additional cart path upgrades will be made next offseason.

Part of the championship-level experience, Patrick said, is making sure every hole is challenging but fair. “For that reason, we’re taking time this summer to rework Hole #16,” he explained. “The view is beautiful, but the green has settled in such a way that it doesn’t always play fair.” Players can expect Hole #16 to return in 2023.

For now, our crew is excited about the state of Bully Pulpit for the year ahead, thanks to late winter and early spring moisture in western North Dakota. “We worked hard to prep the turf for a strong spring,” said Superintendent Kyle Fick. “Our guests will be in for a rewarding experience this season.”

Kirby put it this way with a smile: “It’s going to be a great summer of ‘good walks spoiled,’ as the saying goes.”

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Bully Pulpit Golf Course is scheduled to open to the public on Thursday, May 12th, weather permitting. Visit Medora.com/BullyPulpit to find a tee time!

How a teddy bear from Teddy Roosevelt made a family’s visit to Medora extra-special

At the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, nothing makes us happier than hearing people’s “Medora stories.”

This particular story — of Teddy Roosevelt, a teddy bear, and a young girl named Lily — has us smiling today.

Watch the video above to hear Lily’s great-grandparents, Mike and Marianne, share the story of a visit to Medora with three of their great-grandchildren.

“Lily was extremely sensitive to touch of any kind. She had never accepted a stuffed animal,” Marianne said.

That is, until she met Teddy Roosevelt (as portrayed by Joe Wiegand). He struck up a conversation with the three kids on the streets of downtown Medora before his one-man show began at the Old Town Hall Theater.

“When it was time for the show, we especially noted Lily paying attention to Teddy Roosevelt with everything she had,” Marianne said.

“At the close of his show, he came back holding a teddy bear,” she explained. He tossed it over to their family, intending for it to be given to Lily.

What happened next was a real surprise:

“She hugged it, and there was no way she would let go of it!” Marianne said. “She had to carry it wherever she went. She held it all through the Medora Musical. She hugged it on the drive back home. She hugged it when she went to bed that night.”

Seeing Lily embrace a stuffed animal for the first time is a memory Mike and Marianne won’t soon forget.

“The attention that Teddy Roosevelt gave to Lily — it was just beautiful,” Marianne says. “That teddy bear was a piece of joy for her for such a long time.”

“The Medora Connection” & help for Ukraine in the news

It’s not about the job, it’s about the people.”

Yarema Slonevskyy

In the last week, the story of how friendships made in Medora have led to substantial help for people caught in the war between Ukraine and Russia has spread across North Dakota.

On March 25th, KFYR-TV aired a feature story on Yarema Slonevskyy and Jason Masten, two Medora employees who have connected in an incredible way:

Yarema Slonevskyy’s Medora nametag holds hundreds of memories.

“People see it says I’m from Ukraine and they ask, ‘How did you end up in Medora?’” he explained.

Every summer since 2008, he’s been leaving his home in Ukraine and coming to Medora. He is one of more than 300 seasonal employees the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation hires each summer.

Slonevskyy quickly learned that there is something special about Medora.

It’s not about the job, it’s about the people,” he said from his home in Ukraine.

Now those people, are helping Slonevskyy as his country faces war.

“I worked with Yarema that first year,” said Jason Masten, a Florida native who spent two summers as a TRMF seasonal employee. He met his girlfriend there. He also made other lifelong friends and developed his giving nature.

“Everybody deserves help,” Masten said.

Masten is now living in Poland, where he’s collecting supplies for Slonevskyy to distribute.

“I told him what we needed, and he said, ‘I’m willing to help you out as much as possible,’” recalled Slonevskyy.

You can watch and read the full story by Jody Kerzman for KFYR-TV here.

KX News also shared Yarema’s story, detailing what sort of goods have been collected by his Medora friends:

“We loaded them with strollers, baby shoes, kids’ clothes, diapers, cans of food, formula food for different ages; huge amounts, we barely could fit it,” Slonevskyy said.

Read and watch Cameron Brewer’s story for KX News here.

How friendships made in Medora turned into crucial support for families in Ukraine

In 2007, a young man named Yarema Slonevskyy made the long trip from Ukraine to Medora, North Dakota for the first time.

Nearly every summer since, Yarema has called the North Dakota Badlands home, serving as assistant to Lyubomir Shkandriy, then the TR Medora Foundation’s Food and Beverage Manager.

“We’ve known each other since we were eight years old,” Lyubomir says. The two grew up in Ukraine. “We used to call ourselves brothers from different mothers.”

In late February of 2022, life changed dramatically for Yarema. “Bombs, tanks, missiles, tears, refugees, shock… war,” he wrote on a Facebook post on March 8th.

“Not one night has passed for Yarema without air raid sirens sounding,” says Lyubomir, who now calls Medora home year-round.

But as soon as the sirens began sounding in Yarema’s home country, something else happened: he began hearing from countless friends he made in Medora.

“Right away I started receiving messages from all over the world with warm words of support and prayers for me and my country,” Yarema said, “from people I had the privilege to meet in Medora.”

A number of those friends hail from Poland, which shares a border with Ukraine. And that group of friends quickly took action to help families caught in the conflict.

“[On March 8th] I got a full van of humanitarian goods from my Medora family,” Yarema said. The van was stuffed with batteries, warm clothes, items for children, and even a power generator that made its way to a hospital on Ukraine’s frontline. Yarema met the van at the border of Ukraine and Poland, then drove it to a central hub to be distributed to families in need across Ukraine.

And that was just the first van.

“Same spot, same reason,” Yarema wrote on Facebook on March 19th, as he picked up another vanload of essential supplies—all gathered by friends he made in Medora now living in Poland. “The support and effort are priceless.”

Among those who gathered goods and transported them to Ukraine is Jason Masten, who has also worked in Medora’s food service sector. “I would just like to thank everyone who either donated money, or contributed supplies to the transport,” he wrote on Facebook. “It means the world to those in need.”

“Always remember that it is not our abilities that show who we are. It is our choices,” Jason wrote.

Those words remind us at the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation of these words from our presidential namesake: “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The next best thing is the wrong thing. And the worst thing you can do is nothing,” TR said.

Yarema shared these words of thanks with his “Medora family” on Facebook: “You spend one summer in Medora and you have the whole world watching your back during dark times in the rest of your life.”

Progress Update: Accessible Elevator Taking Shape at Burning Hills Amphitheatre!

Folks in Medora have been enjoying quite the sight this week: an enormous crane swinging pieces of our brand-new high-capacity elevator into place at the Burning Hills Amphitheatre!

These photos show the progress being made on a foggy March 2nd, 2022. It’s thrilling to get a better sense of how this amazing new structure will fit into the landscape at the home of the Medora Musical.

This high-capacity elevator is a major piece of our Access Medora initiative: an ongoing effort to ensure the Medora experience is positive for guests with mobility and sensory challenges.

“It’s been fun to see this elevator take shape,” says Kinley Slauter, the Properties & Attractions Director for the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation. “It will be much more fun to see it in use this summer!”

Instead of being shuttled up and down our winding walking path — a process that could take up to an hour on busy nights — guests in need of extra assistance will have a fast, safe, efficient new option.

“The whole visit to the Burning Hills Amphitheatre is an experience,” says Maddie Thompson, Theaters Manager for TRMF, “from the moment you reach the top of the hill to your trip back into town. This elevator will make that experience better all around. We’re excited!”

Fans of the Medora Musical, like Valerie Addicott and her daughter, are excited too. “I have a little girl in a wheelchair, and she loves the Medora Musical, but we’ve only seen it once due to it being difficult to get her to and from the amphitheatre,” she says. “This will be a Godsend to so many people and their friends and family!”

“The addition of the elevator will also give people an amazing new view of the Badlands,” Slauter says, describing the view from the bridge to the elevator. Take a look at this artist’s rendering of that view:

We’re grateful to the Engelstad Foundation for providing us with a $1 million grant to get this project off the ground. We also owe a big “thank you” to the State of North Dakota, which awarded us a $1 million Tourism Transportation Grant during the 2021 Legislative Session in support of Access Medora.

We can’t wait for summer to get here!

Schafer, Hatzenbuhler: A Thanksgiving Like None Other

Every organization and community faced the pandemic challenges of 2020; few can feel as fortunate as the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF).

Thanksgiving for Medora and TRMF has a historic dimension this year.

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