Congratulations to the South Dakota Farmers Union 2018 Rural Dakota Pride honorees. Being recognized at the South Dakota State Fair this year for giving back to their communities are John and Maria Condon, Winner; Amy Hofer, Doland; Diana Runge, Wessington; Roger Deiter, Faulkton; Joe Schnell, Lake Preston; and Tim Holzer, Arlington.
John and Marie Condon
The Condons have been 4-H volunteers for more than two decades. Their son, KC, likes to tease them about their dedication. "He says he graduated from 4-H in 11 years, but John and I must have flunked because it's 22 years later and we are still involved," Marie says. Of all the 4-H projects KC participated in, shooting sports was the area that he enjoyed most. So, when there was a need for volunteers, John and Marie became certified shooting sports instructors.
"We saw that it was so good for the kids and that they needed volunteers," Marie says.
"It teaches kids safety," John adds. "They have to learn safety before they can participate. I know firearms are dangerous. But, if they are handled right, they aren't."
Doland (pop. 200) didn’t have a local daycare, so Hofer, a farm wife and mother of two sons, ages 5 and younger, garnered community support and wrote a grant to the state of South Dakota to obtain a building. Today, her sons are among the 75 children enrolled in the city-owned daycare. "In a rural community the size of Doland, everyone needs to play their part, Hofer says. "This was the part I could play."
Runge is an emergency medical technician; president of the American Legion Women's Auxiliary; leader of a local group that plants flowers in the park; and founder of St. Joseph's Angels, a group that helps organize funeral meals and raises money to give to community members in need. Runge started St. Joseph’s Angels when a local church closed. Runge says people in Wessington stood by her family in the best of times and the worst of times. When she was a young mother, her oldest son, Ryan, was diagnosed with cancer. Within seven months she was burying her 14-year-old. Her youngest child was only 1. "The community was here for us. You can't die with him, so I chose to survive," Runge says.
A volunteer EMT for more than 35 years, Schnell has helped Lake Preston citizens at times when they are most in need. Schnell recalls one particular emergency where a man's heart stopped. He and the ambulance crew had to conduct CPR and shock him six times on the way to the hospital. "By the time we arrived, he was up and talking to us," Schnell says. "I get a good feeling every time I see him walking around, knowing that I had the privilege of being there to make that big of a difference." Today, Schnell is an EMT trainer, sharing what he's learned with others in his community who want serve on the volunteer ambulance crew.
When Dieter’s adult daughters, Shauna Remily and Chelsea Odden, decided to return to Faulkton to raise their families, he says "it hit me how important it is to have a community for my daughters to come back to." When the community needed to provide more housing opportunities, the Deiter family gifted farmland for the housing development. When the local golf course and football field needed work, Deiter donated his time and equipment.
Nearly 40 years ago when Holzer moved to Arlington, he and his wife, Tammy, didn't know anyone. Today, there isn't anyone Tim doesn't know. "I made an effort to get involved in the community and just plain make this our home," Holzer says. First, he joined the local bowling league. Then, he joined the volunteer fire department. He helped establish the Dollars for Scholars scholarship fund, is a volunteer driver for the Arlington Ambulance, served on the Arlington City Council and is an active member of the Arlington Sons of the Legion. Early in his career, volunteering was about the only way he could get to know people. During the work week, he was out of town working as an insurance claims adjuster. He continues to work in the insurance industry, but in his current role he gets to stay in town. This allows him more time to volunteer, Holzer says.
SDFU provided the information about the winners.