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Sports Corp. to honor five on Friday

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Follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blakesebring and at his blog www.tailingthekomets.com.

Part of annual Party in the Park gathering

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - 11:03 pm

The Fort Wayne Sports Corp. has announced the award winners for Friday's 4th annual Party in the Park banquet at Parkview Field. Hosted by Fort Wayne-native and former Major League Baseball manager Eric Wedge, the event starts at 6 p.m.

This year's winners include community service awards for IPFW's Dan Gebhart, Wells and Adams County broadcaster Dick Stimpson and former McMillen Park Ice Arena manager Mitzi Toepfer. Long-time City Swimming Meet Director Bill Close will receive the Judy Stuart Award as Volunteer of the Year, and long-time Mad Anthony's executive director Jan Van Till will be honored with the Hilliard Gates Life time Achievement Award.

A former assistant athletic director at IPFW, Gebhart was the tournament director each time the school hosted three NCAA Men's Volleyball Tournaments. He is currently the school's comptroller.

Stimpson has called high school football and basketball games for 50 years, starting in Decatur in 1964. He moved to Bluffton's WNUI in 1992, and was honored by the Indiana High School Athletic Association in 2006.

Toepfer started working at McMillen in 1962 and retired 45 years later. She was inducted into the Indiana High School Hockey Hall of Fame in 2005 and is the state representative to USA Hockey, an organization she has been affiliated with for more than 30 years.

Close served as director of the City Swim Meet for more than 40 years and was also coach of many championship teams at Avalon Pool. One of Close's biggest accomplishments was using computers to keep track of the events, records and competitors. When the meet was held at McMillen Park for more than three decades, volunteers had to write the results by hand and then type them out.

Van Til, who passed away Jan. 21 at age 67, was informed of her award. Before she retired after the 2012 event, Van Til did everything for the Mad Anthonys while serving as the organization's tournament director for 35 years.

Among the local sports personalities scheduled to appear are former Major League Baseball manager Eric Wedge, Olympic gold medalists Lloy Ball and Sharon Wichman Jones, former Parade National High School Basketball Player of the Year Tiffany Gooden, former NFL player Trai Essex and NAIA Hall of Fame coach Kevin Donley from Saint Francis.

Silent and live auctions of various sports memorabilia will be held.

Tickets cost $75 per person ($65 for FWSC members) and need to be ordered by Feb. 3. For more information, contact Adam Henry at Beers Mallers Backs and Salin at 426-9706 or at www.fortwaynesportscorp.com.