No snow needed for Saturday's Snowball Dash in Sewickley

| Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 8:52 p.m.

The timing was right, as was the cause and the goal.

Melissa and Jason Richey both were looking for a way to get younger children involved with community service.

Pressley Ridge was looking for new ways to raise awareness and money for its programs focusing on keeping children and families together so youths with challenging behaviors can remain in their homes, schools and communities.

The two came together when Melissa became a member of the Pressley Ridge board of directors after speaking about community service for children with a friend, who also is a board member.

Because her husband, who is coach of the Quaker Valley wrestling teams for ages 12 and under, also was looking for a way for his students to give back to the community, Melissa came up with some ideas.

She wanted to bring the wrestling students and Pressley Ridge students together to carry a Pressley Ridge banner, march and lead the borough's Dec. 1 Santa parade in Sewickley.

Before the parade, both groups also will participate in the Snowball Dash for Kids, a one-mile fun run and walk at 9 a.m. at Chestnut and Chadwick streets.

At the end of the race, bagels and hot chocolate will be available. The community is invited to participate.

Each $25 registration, which can be paid the day of the event, will buy a child in need a warm winter hat, scarf and a pair of mittens, said Loretta Coffin, Pressley Ridge director of corporate and community relations.

Those who don't want to participate in the run can choose to contribute winter coats, hats and mittens to Pressley Ridge students.

Coffin said several Sewickley businesses already have donated these items.

Donations also will be accepted the day of the event.

Jason and Melissa, who is a pediatric nurse practitioner, have three boys: Justin, 9; Logan, 7; and Marcus, 6, all who will participate in the fun run and parade.

Melissa said it's often difficult to find community service activities for younger children.

“It's all about kids giving back to kids,” she said.

“Many times, kids in Sewickley don't realize how lucky they are. You can talk about it, but until they see it for themselves, they don't really understand there are kids out there who don't have a lot like they do.

“It's Christmastime, and there are families who are struggling to put food on the table. It's important for our kids to understand that other kids don't have things as easy as they do.”

Jason said he wanted to get his students involved because the sport of wrestling is all about teaching life lessons.

“Our youth wrestling program is committed to doing that for the kids of Pressley Ridge and the Sewickley community. This race hopefully will teach the kids about the importance of giving back to the community and giving to others in need,” he said.

Melissa got the idea for the fun run after her oldest son enjoyed participating in a one-mile run held at the Pittsburgh Marathon last year and realized there weren't many one-mile events, especially during this time of the year.

She also said beginning in first grade, children are required to run a mile for gym class, so this event is something younger kids can get excited about and succeed in. It also promotes activity and exercise.

“The kids will see how other kids in the community are supporting them in such a positive way,” she said. Coffin said she is expecting about 75 wrestling and Pressley Ridge students, family members and friends to participate.

Pressley Ridge provides an array of youth and family services in six states and also in Hungary and Portugal. In the Pittsburgh area, Pressley Ridge offers foster care, residential treatment services, community-based services in the family home and educational services.

Coffin said the mission of Pressley Ridge is to do “whatever it takes to create success for children and families.”

“For some kids, it's a last chance effort. Some have been to 25 different homes,” Coffin said.

“We try to give them the social and behavioral skills they need to be successful.”

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or

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