October 24, 2014

Special Olympics snowmobile group stopping in Sterling

Group of riders includes quirky former Detroit Tiger

By Tim Barnum
Staff writer
Posted

STERLING — The Wertz Warriors, a group of snowmobile riders who raise money for the Special Olympics through fundraising stops during a 900 mile trek through Michigan, will be stopping at MJ’s in Sterling on Feb. 1 to receive funds collected from a golf outing in Standish last summer.

According to Colleen Irving, one of the golf outing’s coordinators, the check awarded to the Wertz Warriors will also include other donations and is valued between $8,000 and $9,000.

“They’re (Wertz Warriors) going to be there (MJ’s) between 2 and 2:30 p.m.,” Irving said, adding a special guest will be present as well – Mark “The Bird” Fydrich, a former pitcher for the Detroit Tigers known for his original style and antics. “If you want to bring a baseball, he’ll sign one for you.”

Irving estimates between 60 and 70 riders will make the stop, along with the Wertz Warriors support group, which her husband Jack and other county residents are members of that follows the riders in trucks carrying extra fuel and supplies.

This year, an Arenac County native, Joe Gudobba, of Moffatt Township, will also be riding along the 900-mile route.

Gudobba says he knew of the Wertz Warriors when he lived in Mt. Clemens and some of his friends from his former hometown have ridden with the group in the past.

And now he says he feels ready to help out with the Warriors’ cause.

“I semi-retired a few years back. … I guess I’m in a spot now in my life financially where I can help out,” Gudobba said, adding last year one of the Wertz Warriors’ events he attended especially affected him. “Last year was the first year I attended the last stop (of the 900-mile ride) and to hear some of the stories these children tell … it almost brings a tear to your eye.”

He says he is also pleased Arenac County is taking notice of the Wertz Warriors’ mission and vice versa.

“They’ve (Warriors) been talking the last few years of getting involved more in Arenac County,” Gudobba said. “I think over the next two years you’re going to see a very involved Arenac County.

“It actually makes me feel pretty good.”

Former Detroit Tiger, Vic Wertz, established the Wertz Warriors in 1982, according to Irving. She added that during the stop at MJ’s, there will also be a 50/50 raffle to collect further funds for the Special Olympics.

For more information, call 989-654-3403.

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