For the third year in a row, students in the Delaware Area Career Center’s welding lab have created a light display for the upcoming season of Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights, this time for A Kid Again, a local nonprofit.
The display, which portrays a child riding a roller coaster, will be driven under by all the drivers who attend the Fantasy of Lights, which opens for the season Friday at Alum Creek State Park Campground.
The seniors who created the project said they helped out last year on creating the display for Recreation Unlimited and were excited to take the reins this year.
“It was a lot more responsibility,” said Eli Fairchild, a senior from Hayes High School. “We came in on our day off to finish bulbing it. We bulbed all day. It’s huge. We spent our whole first quarter on it. We learned teamwork, time management, and if you have problems, how to fix them.”
Fairchild said he didn’t know about A Kid Again, which works to create positive memories and experiences for families with a child who has a life-threatening illness, and hopes that the light display will spread the word about the work of the organization.
Malachi England, a fellow senior at Hayes, said he’s been focused on the project for the better part of eight weeks.
“Other students took time (off) for their senior projects, but I just did the fantasy,” England said. “It was out of our hearts.”
Carter Strohl, a senior in the program from Buckeye Valley, said he has a special connection to A Kid Again and was happy to help.
“My sister is a cancer survivor, so I’m a part of A Kid Again,” Strohl said. “What they do is outstanding. It’s for a good cause. When they see this, it’s going to be nuts.”
Dante Bando, the owner of the show, said he was especially impressed with the work from the DACC welding students this year.
“Another year, another DACC display,” Bando said. “Every year since we began creating these they keep getting better and better, and we’re extremely proud of every display that we’ve done with them. They really pushed the bounds with what they could do. We tested their skills about as much as we could.”
Bando said next year’s DACC display literally can’t get any bigger, and he’d like to see the next class focus on details.
“It can’t get any bigger,” Bando laughed. “These poor kids really did everything they possibly could. Next year, we are going to challenge ourselves. It’s going to be in the details. They just can’t get bigger, we don’t have the time. I think it says that they’re dedicated to it. Dedicated not only to the craft that they are learning, but they are also dedicated to the charities they are representing. We see that growth and that excitement.”
Chris Elliot, the executive director of A Kid Again for Central Ohio, thanked the students for their work on the display.
“I think it’s an incredible piece that the kids were able to put together, and I love the fact that they put a lot of thought into what A Kid Again represents,” Elliot said. “One of the things to look at that’s really close to me is the kids wanted to show that uplifting spirit of A Kid Again, so the idea that the roller coaster is shooting up at the end is something they talked about. I thought it was just incredible.”
Jim Gaskill, the principal at the DACC, said this is his first year with the career center, and he was excited to see the project firsthand.
“Anytime that an organization helps people, that’s a great thing,” Gaskill said. “Any time of the year we can get our kids into a project that helps people, that’s a great thing. And they are able to showcase their talents, connect with the world, and move on with their career. They are giving back to the community.”
Carrie Trusley, the career tech supervisor at the DACC, said the partnership between the community and the DACC that gives students hands-on experience is something she wants for more programs at the school. She added it’s even better when the “real-life applications” are also philanthropic.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.