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Band-Aid for Titans: Dickinson comes out to support Trinity High after devastating fire

Press Photo by Katherine Grandstrand The "Titan Strong" Band-Aid Relief event combined elements of Trinity’s Mardi Gras fundraiser with a concert including local favorites Outlaw Sippin’, Gene and Jessie Veeder and former Van Halen member and Dickinson native Mitch Malloy, shown here.1 / 4
Press Photo by Katherine Grandstrand Kaelynn Maher plays a game with her mom, Tosha Danford, at Arts on the Prairie’s “Titan Strong” Band-Aid Relief. 2 / 4
Press Photo by Katherine Grandstrand Nine-year-old Jackson Sticka looks intently as he plays a game at the “Titan Strong” Band-Aid Relief for Trinity High School on Saturday at the Astoria Hotel and Events Center in north Dickinson. 3 / 4
Press Photo by Katherine Grandstrand A photo copy of Trinity High School students in lettermen’s jackets, left, and a photo copy of Pope Francis that was left unscathed on the walls of Trinity High School after an early March fire were one of many items donated to the auction for the “Titan Strong” Band-Aid Relief event held at Astoria Hotel and Events Center in Dickinson on Saturday.4 / 4

Supporters of Trinity High School were ready to have fun for a good cause Saturday.

Less than two hours in, people filled the rooms at the Astoria Hotel and Events Center in Dickinson for the “Titan Strong” Band-Aid Relief. The event featured games, live music, food and silent and live auctions — fun for all ages at the

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“It’s just another example of an entire community pulling together,” Dickinson Catholic Schools Steve Glasser said. “I guess the word that always comes back to me is humbling. We all kind of wondered this week why we live in North Dakota with the weather, but you see this, and that’s why we live in North Dakota — because of the generosity and the spirit of our people.”

Band-Aid was in the early stages of organization by March 14 — less than two weeks after a fire allegedly set by former principal Thomas Sander ripped through Trinity High. The blaze destroyed a large portion of the school, forcing officials to shut the building down for the rest of the school year.

After receiving more than a foot of snow from two storms last week, outdoor portions of the event — giant inflatable games for kids — might have had to move indoors. But Saturday brought lots of sunshine and temperatures in the 40s.

“I wasn’t nervous at all,” organizer Eric Smallwood said. “Why get nervous over stuff you can’t control?”

Organizers decided to mimic the event after Trinity’s Mardi Gras fundraiser, combined with the model Arts on the Prairie used for a Band-Aid Relief event for the victims of 2009’s tornado. That event raised $150,000.

The goal for today’s fundraiser is $200,000.

“That’s an aggressive goal, and we’re hoping that the community is going to step up and support us in that,” said Klayton Oltmanns, president of Arts on the Prairie and master of ceremonies for the event.

Oltmanns has a senior and freshman at Trinity High School, adding “we just want everything to get back to normal for the kids.”

The event was organized by a committee of Arts on the Prairie and community members with details planned right up until the last minute.

The only plan from the beginning was to host a fun event that the whole community could enjoy, Smallwood said.

“The plans were to get the best entertainment and the best fun for families that we could,” Smallwood said. “I guess you could say we did that.”

The event saw a lot of support from businesses, organizations and individuals with donations of silent and live auction items, Smallwood said. The Astoria donated the space for the event and $1 of every drink sold at its bar during the 12-hour festival.

“I’m proud of the help that I’ve been given when I’ve asked for it,” Smallwood said.

Jerome Dukart likes to attend events like Saturday’s to support the community. He has no direct ties to Trinity, he said.

“We needed to get out of the house really bad,” Dukart said with a chuckle. “We go to the things to support the community, like Make-a-Wish, we went to the benefit (to support Matthew Jahner) last night.”

Everyone at Trinity and Dickinson Catholic Schools was grateful for the support, Glasser said.

“Thank you again to the entire community,” Glasser said. “We’re so blessed to live in a place like Dickinson, North Dakota. Words really can’t express the gratitude and appreciation.”

Oltmanns echoed those sentiments from Arts on the Prairie.

“We just want to thank the community for their overwhelming support and want them to remember it does not end today,” Oltmanns said. “This is just the start of it, but there’s a lot of work ahead.”

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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