Salem youth inspires Scrabble Run

SALEM – Registration is now open for the Curing Retinal Blindness Foundation Scrabble Run bike ride and walk taking place Sept. 22 at Waterworth Memorial Park, presented by Eyes for Olivia and the Canfield Lions Club.

“All of this money goes to research,” Salem resident and event organizer Kim Hoffman said.

Kim’s 7-year-old daughter, Olivia, soon to be a second grader at Buckeye Elementary, suffers from a degenerative retinal disease known as Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis and was diagnosed with the rare CRB1 version at age 4.

The disease eventually causes blindness and a group of families whose children all have it belong to a parent-formed foundation known as CRBF and are trying to raise money for research, including Kim, her husband Mike and their three children, Sarah, Olivia and Sean.

The Hoffmans wanted to host a fundraiser in their community and came up with a new twist on a 1.5-mile bike ride/walk event: provide participants with Scrabble pieces along the route and have them form words for prizes at the finish line. Kim said it’s not a race – it’s just a leisurely ride or walk along the paths of the park that families can do together.

“We’re hoping they come out and have a good time. Enjoy the day as a family…all while raising money for the CRBF,” she said.

Check-in will be at 12:30 p.m. at the main pavilion off of Superior Avenue with bikes taking off at 2 p.m. and walkers leaving the starting spot at 2:15 p.m.

Families and individuals can pre-register at a reduced price up until Aug. 30 to be guaranteed a T-shirt, but can also register the day of the event.

To pre-register, become a sponsor or learn more about the event, go to

The cost for those who pre-register is $15 for an individual or $40 for a family. Pre-registration packets, which will be handed out the day of the event, will include a T-shirt, participant wristband and one scrabble tile. Families will receive three scrabble tiles for up to three people. On the day of the event, the price goes up to $20 for an individual and $50 for a family.

She explained that for a family with a lot of kids, parents can walk the course with the children and don’t have to register themselves. Participants will stop at seven checkpoints to receive seven additional tiles, with a form to be marked at each checkpoint. At the end, participants will write their word on the form and turn it in for a chance at two grand prizes and several secondary prizes of Scrabble games. The grand prizes will be bicycles. Participants will be divided into two age groups, younger children and then older teens and adults.

Kim said they’re also looking for sponsors for the T-shirts, game/activity booths and checkpoint stations. Information about sponsorships available are on the website at People who want to volunteer or businesses who want to donate coupons or promotional items for the pre-registration bag can contact Kim by email at

The fun will continue after the bike ride/walk with a carnival on the park grounds featuring games and activities and food for purchase. The cost of carnival tickets is five for $3 and 10 for $5, with the tickets used for everything, including the food, which will feature hot dogs and hamburgers, cotton candy and sno cones. The games will include putt putt golf from the Canfield Lions Club and a football toss manned by YSU football players.

Rea’s is donating pumpkins for pumpkin painting, Angels for Animals will bring some animals, Aut Mori Grotto clowns will come out and Salem Self Pro Martial Arts will do a demonstration. Also coming to the event will be the Salem Fire Department, Salem Police Patrolman Brad Davis and North Star Critical Care. A disc jockey will provide music.

Some of the event sponsors already on board include: major sponsors Bob and Linda Sebo and Parker Hydrick; level A, PMC Systems Limited; level B, Beard Pension Services Inc., Huntington Insurance, Butech Bliss, Blue Knights Ohio Chapter XXVII, Wells Fargo Advisors, BOC Water Hydraulics, TruCut Incorporated, Morris Financial Group Inc.; level C, Nate Mullen, Sam and Carol McKinney, Winkle Electric Co. Inc.; checkpoint, SSB CPAs, Salem VFW Post 892 and Salem Emmanuel Lutheran Church; and game/activites, Pat Cocoran, Salem Eye Care Center, Rood Trucking Co. Inc., Rea’s Farm Market, North Star Critical Care and ImageOne Uniforms.

Event committee members besides the Hoffmans include, Dr. Carmela Abraham, Mike Clayton, Doug Falk, Steve and Wanda Folger, Lori Wilson, Randy and Deb Yakubek, Greg Warner, Angela McCoy, Cheryl Kholos and Linda Sebo.

Volunteers include the Canfield Lions Club, committee members, the Salem High School Key Club, Canfield High School Leos and YSU football players.

Kim said Olivia started Braille instruction this summer and they were traveling to the Ohio State School for the Blind for an evaluation of her vision to see if there are any special needs the school will need to provide at Buckeye. She recently had her peripheral vision measured, or her field of vision to the sides. The normal range is 80 degrees. For Olivia, the range was 20 degrees.

“It’s like looking through a tube,” Kim said of her daughter’s vision.

Olivia is night blind, but she’s still doing okay with her vision with glasses. The Hoffmans are trying to prepare her for the future, which will include blindness, possibly as early as her late teens or early 20s, barring any break-throughs in treatment.

“The whole idea is to get her prepared to be independent and be able to function in society,” Kim said.