$55,000 in Scholarships Awarded During Strimbu BBQ

Camaro Also Raffled

In observance of its 25th anniversary, the Strimbu Memorial Fund awarded $55,000 in scholarships to high school seniors during its annual bar-b-que. This year, 13 students were given $2,500 scholarships, with one receiving the overall award of $25,000, which was announced the night of the event on May 7.

Individual scholarship winners and their respective schools are: Danielle J. Ford, Badger; Leah M. Bayer, Brookfield; Kimara R. Chapman, Farrell; Nathalie J. Yurisic, Greenville; Elizabeth S. Ague, Grove City; Andrew M. Bianco, Hickory; Gavin C. Cianci, Kennedy Catholic; Kelly A. Kovacevich, Mathews; Gwyn M. Dubel, Reynolds; Kieran T. Zajac, Sharon; Brittany A. DeCarmine, Sharpsville; Michael W. Ronga, Warren JFK; and Aerial M. Pratt, West Middlesex.

The winner of the $25,000 scholarship is Brittany A. DeCarmine, Sharpsville High School. This award was presented by Chubb/HDH Group. Dollar-wise, the Strimbu Memorial Fund awards the most any local organization gives in scholarships.

In addition to the scholarships, a raffle was held for a 2014 Camaro SS as part of the fund raising for the fund. This iconic muscle car painted in “Red Hot,” comes with a sunroof, black leather SS interior, a 6.2L V8 engine and 20-inch aluminum wheels, among its many features. The winner of the Camaro, which has a sticker price of almost $43,000, was Jeff Weigel of Fargo, North Dakota. Money raised through the raffle, which is sponsored by Flynn’s Tire & Auto Service, will be used to further the work of the late Tom and Nick Strimbu Jr.

With doors opening at 5 p.m., the food was reminiscent of a full-scale Texas bar-b-que with a multitude of appetizers, plus beef, turkey, duck, pig, ox, fish and lamb served straight from the spit. In addition, six-foot paella skillets greeted guests with more mouth-watering offerings. The event sponsor was First National Bank.

This year’s live entertainment featured country-rock star Chris Higbee. In 2000, Higbee founded a band, the PovertyNeck Hillbillies (PNH), named after a hollow on his father’s farm. As the lead of PNH, Higbee delivered wild and energetic concerts across the country on stages, rooftops, and any other platform from which Higbee could fathom a way to play. His extraordinary fiddle playing became widely known and he was asked to play fiddle alongside music icon Charlie Daniels. PNH performed for seven years, acquiring an international fan base, distributing three records and releasing a No. 2 nationally rated video, “Mr. Right Now,” starring Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Higbee has released two solo CDs and is enjoying international support of his hits “Fiddles Rock,” “Roll on By,” “Alright Tonight,” “Barn Party” and “Guilty as Charged.” Higbee is currently performing to large crowds and featuring songs from his self-titled albums including, “Write to Me,” a song dedicated to his wife Melissa, who is currently serving her country and is an Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran.

Since its inception in 1990, the Strimbu Memorial Fund has provided millions of dollars in donations and scholarships. The fund also supports local economic development and many charitable organizations.

“The Strimbu Memorial Fund was created to perpetuate the work of the late Tom and Nick Strimbu Jr., who had a passion for leading individuals and economic development agencies in order to attract, assist and retain the industrial base of the valley,” said Board President Paul O’Brien. “In addition, when the Strimbu Memorial Fund awards scholarships to area students, we are investing in the life of a person—and that is worth millions.”

The BBQ is also known for its giveaway of a bag of Vidalia onions to all those in attendance. “This tradition started as the Strimbu family always brought back Vidalia onions from the South to give to their friends, explained O’Brien.”

The event also featured both silent and live auctions, with many unique items such as utility vehicles, travel packages, Lake Erie walleye fishing trips, sporting event tickets and loges, and assorted jewelry items, just to name a few.