Volunteers Refresh the Medora Children’s Park
May 20, 2022

For Charles Cullen, spending an afternoon in Medora raking rubber mulch meant coming full circle.

“My wife and I were here 21 years ago helping build this,” the 87-year-old said of the Medora Children’s Park. “It’s been well used over the years. I’m just thankful that my physical condition is such that I can still do this.”

Cullen was one of about 75 volunteers who spent Saturday, May 14th, 2022 breathing new life into the Medora Children’s Park – which was built by volunteers over the course of five days in 2001.

Bob Holzer was there in 2001, too. This time, he said, “I feel older! But it’s a happy feeling.”

The wooden playground received a fresh coat of stain and about 70 tons of recycled rubber mulch – a softer, safer material underfoot for kids using the park. The volunteer crew, which included the President of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, Randy Hatzenbuhler, applied plenty of elbow grease to get the work done in a day.

“We were joking about the amount of ibuprofen we’d need after that!” Hatzenbuhler said. “But not one person seemed to complain about any of it. In fact, the coordinator of the project, Peggy Gunther, said they’re all asking, ‘What’s the next project?’ Every organization should be able to experience that – when people care that much.”

“You don’t get to experience this kind of goodwill every day,” Gunther said. She serves the TR Medora Foundation as Director of Volunteer Activities.

Bravera Bank brought a team of about a dozen employees out for the volunteer event. The bank made a generous contribution to TRMF to make the renovation project possible. “We’re bankers, right? So we don’t usually work with our hands much!” said David Ehlis, the President and CEO of Bravera, who also cut the ribbon on the park at a grand reopening ceremony. “It’s great to be able to help the community.”

Gunther says events like this — and the hundreds of people who volunteer their time and energy to help the TR Medora Foundation operate during busy summers — inspire her. “This is what humankind is really all about. You work side by side, you have fun, you treat each other with kindness and goodness, and you make it happen.”

The Medora Children’s Park is located in downtown Medora, and is free and open to the public every day from sunrise to sunset.

Major Impact: 3300+ Kids See Medora Musical Free of Charge Thanks In Part To Endowment Fund
August 5, 2021

Thousands of children saw the Medora Musical and attended other attractions free of charge over the course of nine days in July as part of Medora WISH Kids Free Week, the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF) is pleased to announce.

The Medora WISH is an endowment inspired by TRMF Founder Harold Schafer’s desire to keep costs low for families who hope to visit Medora and attend various activities, including the Medora Musical.

From July 3rd through July 11th, a total of 3,365 children 17 and under attended the Medora Musical at no cost. 1,573 of those kids’ tickets were funded by the WISH Endowment.

“During WISH Endowment week, I probably had five or six families who rather emotionally told me they couldn’t have come to Medora if it wasn’t for the WISH Endowment,” says Randy Hatzenbuhler, President of TRMF. “You feel that, and you feel really good about it.”

Another goal of the Medora WISH Endowment is to periodically help cover costs related to sponsoring an inspirational trip to Medora for a person or people who otherwise could not experience it for physical, mental, or monetary limitations.

To that end, we recently welcomed 20-year-old Melissa Smette of Jamestown, her mother Pamela, and her grandfather David to Medora for a VIP experience on the town: seeing the Medora Musical and meeting cast members, and attending many other attractions in town.

“It’s something she’s going to look back on and remember for the rest of her life, even if she’s unable to do something like this again,” says Monica Schlenker, Melissa’s direct support professional at the Anne Carlsen Center in Jamestown. “I’m very thankful to be able to see that.”

“It just warms your heart to think about someone like that having a special day in Medora. That’s what life is all about, isn’t it?” says Don Clement, who co-founded and initially funded the Medora WISH Endowment along with his wife Pat and Mike and Vicki Zaun. The fund has also found additional support from several other major donors called WISH Wranglers.

“It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside, knowing that the original purpose of the endowment resonated not only with the Clements and my family, but with a bunch of other people,” says Mike Zaun.

Additionally, 496 children attended shows at the Old Town Hall Theater at no cost, and 142 rides on Manitou the Zipline were given free thanks to the WISH Endowment this year.

PHOTOS: WISH Recipient Melissa Smette & Family in Medora

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Meet Lonnie Bonner: a volunteer of 15 years who battled back from a major health obstacle to return to Medora this summer.

Get to know the endowment that’s helped thousands of families connect to Medora at a lower cost!

A quick look at why working and exploring in Medora makes for the best summer of your life!


Kaelee Wallace

Marketing Manager

(701) 223-4800


Tim Circle
Tim Olson

Foundation Communications Specialist

(701) 223-4800