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Amistad hosts annual scholarship baile, Sept. 20

Fremont: Six area couples, who founded a scholarship dance and hosted it for the past 20 years, are planning their last event.

But the group is hoping that someone in the next generation will take ownership and continue the Amistad Scholarship Dance.

This year’s event is Sept. 20, 2008, from 7:30 p.m. until midnight at the Meadowbrook Park Ballroom in Bascom, Ohio.

Bob Valle, a Gibsonburg resident, came up with the idea of a reunion-type gathering in the early 1980s when he ran into a childhood friend at a retreat.

“We hadn’t seen each other in 30 years,” Valle said. “We were reminiscing and later I told my wife that it was sad that we don’t see people anymore. I said, ‘Does it have to be that way?’”

So in 1987, he contacted six people and they reached out to others, until they had enough people to reserve the Meadowbrook Park Ballroom. The group became known as Amistad, meaning friendship, and the first dance was in 1988.

Fellow organizer Fernando Costilla of Fremont said the group was just looking to break even that first year, but since the turnout was so good, there was money left over afterward.

“We thought, now what do we do with it,” Costilla recalled. “We decided to donate it to something in the area that needs it. And so we started giving money for scholarships at the University of Toledo, the University of Findlay, Bowling Green State University, and Defiance College.”

When Valle joined the Terra College Foundation board in 1996, the community college in Fremont became the sole beneficiary.

To date, the event has netted $9,500 for Terra and an Amistad scholarship is awarded each year. And it has allowed old friends to keep in contact.

“This has kept us young,” Costilla said. “We feel that it’s rejuvenated us. We’ve become really close. It’s like a class reunion every year.”

The Tejano dance is just part of a three-day campout in Bascom, that brings friends from as far away as Michigan and Cleveland. Both Valle and Costilla hope this isn’t the last event.

“Hopefully the younger generation will grab the importance of this,” Valle said. “If only three or four couples would step up and take over. I’ll stay with them to help organize and I’m certain that some of our Amistad members will do the same.

“It’s vital that a social organization has influence in our youths’ education by making sure that there are scholarships available.”

For more information on the Amistad Scholarship Dance, call Bob Valle at 419-637-7496.

What: Amistad Scholarship Dance.
When: Sept. 20, 2008, from 7:30 p.m. to midnight.
Where: Meadowbrook Park Ballroom, Bascom.
Tickets: $15 in advance, $18 at the door and are available at El Aguila Bakery and Casa Fiesta in Fremont and Mendoza Tex-Mex in Findlay.





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