Coshocton County Fatherhood Initiative honors contest winners

| May 20, 2019

Rorey Wesney reads his daughter, Gabriella Wesney’s essay while she watches. Gabriella was one of three grand prize winners in the essay contest which was organized by the Coshocton County Fatherhood Initiative. William Johnson, pictured at right, is co-chair of the organization. Josie Sellers | Beacon

COSHOCTON – The Coshocton County Fatherhood Initiative recently held a recognition dinner to honor dads and their children who were chosen as winners in its essay contest. The event was held May 14 at the Coshocton County Career Center and attendees were treated to a gourmet meal prepared by Chef Mike Cichon and his students.

Every school in the county participated in the contest, which asked children in third through sixth grade to explain what made their dad father of the year. William Johnson, co-chair of the Coshocton County Fatherhood Initiative, said through the contest they had the chance to impact roughly 2,680 families. Three grand prize winners and 19 second place winners were selected. The top three won Kindle Fires and $500 educational donations for their classrooms. The second place winners also won Kindle Fires and coupons from Papa John’s.

As part of the dinner, the dads of the children who won the grand prizes were asked to read their child’s essay out loud.

In Gabriella Wesney’s essay about her father Rorey Wesney, she wrote that her dad has taught her to be respectful of adults and a role model to younger children. She also thanked him for working hard to put food in their bellies.

Travis Hahn’s daughter Kiley Hahn thanked him for working a lot of hours to provide for the family and supporting her and her sister in their activities.

The third grand prize winner, Marissa Sheneman and her dad Ron Sheneman were unable to attend the dinner, but Johnson read her essay to the crowd.

In her essay, Marissa shared how her dad allows the family to have pets even though he is allergic and helps with the cleaning and cooking since their mom works a lot.

Instead of writing an essay, students in kindergarten through second grade were asked to draw a picture about their dad. The winners of this contest and their dads were treated to art lessons at the Pomerene Center for the Arts. Unfortunately, only one of these dads was able to come. Kevin Ely was so excited about the event that he came even though his daughter Astrid could not.

“Thank you very much for doing this,” he said. “If there is ever anything I can do to help, let me know.”

Each dad received a certificate of commitment and a pin from the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood. The fathers of the essay contest winners also received a commendation from Senator Jay Hottinger’s office.

Johnson was very appreciative of everyone who came to show their support for the fatherhood initiative and the contest.

“Our purpose is to encourage and empower fathers to be positive role models in their child’s life,” he said. “This group is solely volunteer run and we are thankful for the stakeholders that keep us afloat.”

The fatherhood initiative was established in Coshocton in 2004 and Johnson said it has grown over the years and even helped Richland and Licking counties get theirs started.

“I am thankful for the people in our community that I get to work with,” he said. “We have awesome people. Other groups don’t’ have this type of collaboration. That is a strength of ours and hopefully we can use it to help one family at a time. This is really all about spending quality time with your children. Dads need to be in the picture. They are a part of the puzzle whether they are with the mom or not. Both parents working together can make a child’s life extremely happy.”

For more information on the fatherhood initiative and how you can volunteer call, 740-622-3760.

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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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