Not only was she serving the hungry Coldwater people, Melody was fielding questions as well.
Why was she doing this? Was someone making her? Or, from the younger children, where did she get that crown?
Melody Nofziger, this year’s Teen Miss Edon, says what she liked most about volunteering at the Coldwater food pantry was seeing all the smiles. It didn’t matter that the homeless and less fortunate patrons weren’t particularly clean or well groomed, or that their clothes were tattered and torn. Just seeing them happy was all she needed.
“I just like helping people in general.” Nofziger admitted.
A quick glance at her other volunteer work removes all doubt about that. Nofziger has spent her time helping to serve community meals, working the concession stands, assisting with parties for little kids at the library, setting up the yearly Easter Egg hunt in Waltz Park, and even giving the town Santa Clause, who happens to be her grandfather, a hand when children come to tell him their holiday wishes.
That grandfather, Bruce Kannel, has had his own battle with cancer. Diagnosed with terminal cancer of the kidney three years ago, Kannel was given six months to live. The Teen Miss Edon Queen accompanied her grandpa to his treatments, getting to know the medical professionals keeping him alive. She also saw the Williams County Cancer Assistance Program help fund his treatments, something she still hasn’t forgotten. In fact, it’s motivated her.
“I thought it would be nice to try to help.”
Indeed, upon hearing about her old friend Chloe Merillat, whom she has known mostly from New Hope Church in Bryan, which they both attend, Nofziger knew she had to do something. Her Teen Miss Edon Pageant Community Concentration happened to be assisting the Cancer Assistance Program, and raising money for the Merillat Family, themselves giving members of the Edgerton Community, was a cause near her heart.
The question then became where to start. How could she begin her campaign to give some financial relief to the Merillats? The answer which came to her is perhaps in her blood. The Kannel family has a long and proud tradition of doing it after all. When one thinks about it, it was the most logical conclusion to which she could have come.
Of course the answer was square dancing.
“We cleared out the tables at our family reunions and did it.” Lynne, Melody’s mom, remembered.
There is a long history, going back at least as far as Lynne’s grandmother, of Kannel’s organizing and calling square dances.
This particular square dance, held in the Edon Fire Hall, will involve three callers, which also happen to represent three generations of the Kannel lineage. Matriarch Gus Kannel, her daughter Lynne, and of course Melody herself will follow the lead of her grandmother and mother. It just so happens that this will be Melody’s first time calling a square dance, but she’ll be ready. She has to be, as she doesn’t have a choice in the matter.
“We’re making her call at least one (song).” Lynne joked.
Preparation for calling a square dance not only pertains to the creation of routines, but the continuous practice of said routines as well. This practice will also include working with the band playing the event, which is comprised of Melody’s Uncle Doug Kannel and Dallas Fike, whose instruments of choice are the drums and the keyboard. Fike happens to have some professional experience working square dances, having toured with the Hee Haw Band in the past.
Doug isn’t the only Kannel helping out for the benefit. His wife, Becky, a manager at Bob Evan’s in Angola, is having her employer donate drinks for the dance. Wendy’s Chili will also be available, as well as hot dogs and chips. Baked goods, provided in part by the Williams County Queens for a Cause, an organization comprised of all the queens from every pageant in Williams County, will also be available. The Queens will also help with the serving of food and setting up the Fire Hall for the event.
The benefit, set for October 11 from five to nine in the evening, will depend on freewill donations to collect money for their cause. Donations are still welcomed for those unable to attend. The money received will be split between the Merillat family and the Williams County Cancer Assistance Program. The Program will use the money to cover gas cards and bill co-pays for those diagnosed with cancer.
A prime ambassador of the community, Melody’s giving nature has won her a good many crowns already. She’s won the Junior Miss Edon pageant two years ago, while winning the Teen Miss Edon moniker earned her a shot at the Williams County Pageant, which she won as well. That win elevated her to the Tri-County Pageant, and she took the crown there, too. Her volunteer work has even won her the title “Queen of Queens.”
So what drives her to compete? Her motivation comes from a simple place, actually.
“I wanted to enter pageants to meet new people,” Nofziger stated, adding, “and to be a role model for the younger kids.”
It’s pretty clear she’s already accomplished the latter, crown or not.