Before being named Big Kahuna with her husband, Tom, Chris Nuzback got a hug from a couple of her employees. The Nuzback’s raised over $7,000 for the complex.

Meadville Tribune

WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP — Apparently, being a major force in coordinating the second annual MARCaritaville wasn’t enough for Chris Nuzback.

The Meadville Area Recreation Complex assistant director and her husband also raised the most money of five couples vying for the title of Big Kahuna at Tuesday evening’s MARCaritaville fund-raising party. They collected $7,450 of a $15,500 total collected by the competing couples.

The fundraiser for the complex began last year as a way to help the cash-strapped facility make improvements. Last year’s proceeds will go toward a new roof. This year is expected to pay in part for a new dasher board system, which protects ice-arena fans from wayward pucks and hockey players.

Including the Kahuna teams’ efforts and ticket sales of at least 475 for the event, this MARCaritaville brought in more than $27,000. In addition, there were rip-off ticket sales, donations and raffles. A total net profit from the event won’t be known until later this week, according to Mike Fisher, the facility’s executive director.

Nuzback had a unique strategy. “I went through the Yellow Pages at random and told them we were raising money for the new dasher boards,” she said. “I asked if they’d like to donate.”

Fisher praised his lieutenant. “I think it was great she took it upon herself,” he said, noting there were only four Kahuna teams before Nuzback got involved.

He said her efforts are all the more remarkable because she’s recently encountered health problems that kept her from work. “This has been a tough summer for Chris,” he said. “If she’d had no medical leave, she probably would have doubled that amount (raised). She’s a tremendous asset to the facility. Her whole heart and soul goes to making this place better for the community.”

Doug Stanton, MARCaritaville committee chairman, said likewise. “Chris has been instrumental in the Kahuna teams and in MARCaritaville the last two years,” he said.

But Nuzback’s only request is more contestants for 2007. “The only thing I want to say is I need five teams for next year,” she said. “Come see me.”

With the backdrop of a warm evening, steel drum music and the constant hum of 500 people involved in as many conversations, guests milled about in and around the complex’s George J. Barco Aquatic Center, taking in fruit trees, food, a bubble machine and refreshments.

The shirt design of choice was the flowered variety, and one of those sporting that print was Mark Gildea, who partnered with girlfriend Juanita Hampton for a Kahuna team and whose brother, Roger, is on the complex’s board.

“It’s for an excellent cause,” he said, reflecting on the event. “Our feeling is this is just a way we can give back to the community. The rec complex is something that benefits the whole community. Recreation’s good for everybody.”

Gary Johnson can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at

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