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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015


Music in Van Wert

By: Paul Hoverman


Yesterday was a day of cleaning and pitching at the Niswonger. I’m sure you do this at your home.  You set aside a day of cleaning up and pitching things that have accumulated over the year(s) that you no longer have need of.  Well, the same occurs in workplaces; even a performing arts center.

It has been nine years since we began operating the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. Over those years, we have been blessed with little turnover of personnel, although there are some no longer with us and a few new faces. One new face we have recently added is in our office area and we need to make room for another desk (workstation).  If you have been to the Niswonger in the past few weeks, you may have noticed a young man new to our facility. His name is Chris Fader and he is learning our box office, as well as assisting in marketing and sales. I will introduce him more at a later date.

This is all being said to lead up to the motivation of cleaning up and pitching. As we were going through the files and drawers, I found many interesting items that made me reflect on our beginnings. One was the Gala Opening Weekend program. We opened with a Gala Weekend of concerts on March 18, 2007.  The very first concert on the Central Insurance Stage of the VWCF Saltzgaber Music Hall featured high school musicians from the three schools in the county. They were joined on stage by two esteemed Van Wert alumni who have gone on to outstanding music careers.  Doug Wolf, a 1971 VWHS graduate, performed with the VWHS Band and Tom Dustman, a 1966 VWHS graduate, joined a combined chorus.

We followed that Friday night concert with Country music’s Lee Greenwood Saturday night and then on Sunday, appropriately featured Christian artists Sandy Patti and Larnelle Harris. Many of you were there for those opening concerts, and you are the ones I really want to talk about.

I counted over 300 individuals, businesses, organizations, and alumni who gave to the building of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. Those names can be seen today under the “Giving Tree” on the west wall of the Grand Lobby. A few have passed on since then, but most are still with us and have continued to support our cause with concert attendance, memberships, advertising, underwriting, and various other forms of support. It is on the backs of many that we have built our success.

So many visitors are amazed with what Van Wert has, tucked among the cornfields of the south side of Van Wert. It is because of so many of you fine people that we can boast of one of the finest performing arts centers in the Midwest!

It was interesting to be reminded of a few of the facts of our building, many of which have probably been forgotten. Did you know there are 2,650 wooden panels in the Niswonger, all made from the wood veneer of an anigre tree from West Africa in the Congo area. The tree was 8 feet, 10 inches, in diameter and 300 feet tall. Over 105,000 pounds of granite went into the building. The exterior granite is from Italy while the interior granite in the lobby is from India.  The stage area is 3,722 square feet, while the entire music hall encompasses 8,278 square feet.  The lobby ceiling reaches a height of 55 feet, 2 inches, and the big window in the front is 33 feet, 4 inches tall.

There are many other interesting facts, but I think this gives you enough talking points to share with visitors over coffee at the next show.  And speaking of the next show, it features two performances of Mamma Mia!, one of Broadway’s biggest dance and musical shows of all time.  November 24 is mostly sold out and the performance on the 25th is moving swiftly in that direction.

If the family is coming home for Thanksgiving, why not treat them to a wonderful night of entertainment, Broadway style, and you will have plenty to talk about.


POSTED: 11/18/15 at 7:44 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

I guess it’s not too early to start talking about Christmas. There will be many activities and certainly Van Wert is a mecca for Christmas concerts and events. Some may do their shopping out of town or online this Christmas, but music will drive people to Van Wert in droves this season.

I want to make you aware of a Christmas event and concert that will certainly get us off and running. Friday, December 4, will be an evening organized by Main Street Van Wert, the Performing Arts Department of The Van Wert County Foundation, and First United Methodist Church.

BGSU Women's Chorus

BGSU Women’s Chorus

Beginning at 6 p.m., there will be a lighting of the big Christmas tree and other decorative lights in Fountain Park. Donations are being accepted at the Main Street office (136 E. Main Street) to help make Fountain Park a spectacular Christmas light display.  Following the lighting, musical entertainment will be served up by the Merry Gentlemen as well as hot drinks and cookies made available.  This will all be happening in Fountain Park.

Just about the time you are ready to warm up, you are then invited to cross the street and enter the beautiful sanctuary of First U.M. Church and enjoy a sacred and Christmas concert performed by both the Women’s Chorus and the A Cappella Choir from Bowling Green State University.  The Van Wert County Foundation and First U.M. Church are thrilled to present these two outstanding choirs in concert for everyone to enjoy.  I hope we pack the sanctuary!  A free will offering will be taken to help with additional travel expenses for the choir’s buses.

There are two local singers performing in each ensemble. Carissa Miglin, daughter of Eric and Caren Miglin, sings in the Women’s Chorus and Jacob Hoverman, son of yours truly and Annette Hoverman, sings in the a cappella choir. I know first-hand of the quality of these two vocal ensembles, and I understand they will combine at the end to perform a special Christmas piece you won’t want to miss.  And in the wonderful setting and acoustics of the First U.M. sanctuary, I can’t wait for this concert.

The Van Wert County Foundation is helping underwrite some of the expenses of this concert, but your donations will help the church feed and transport over 100 college singers to and from BGSU.

It will be a wonderful night to get everyone in the spirit of Christmas.  And it all happens in downtown Van Wert.  Mark your calendars for December 4.  Fountain Park Christmas lighting at 6 p.m. and then the BGSU Choirs in concert beginning at 7 that evening in the beautifully decorated sanctuary of First United Methodist Church in downtown Van Wert.

BGSU A Cappella Chorus

BGSU A Cappella Chorus


POSTED: 11/10/15 at 9:57 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Two years ago, we presented a musical group called Under the Streetlamp at the Niswonger PAC. At the time, they were not really that well known to our audience.  When they left Van Wert, they were one of the most talked about concerts of the year. Their music resonated with all ages as they sang Doo-Wop, Motown, and old time Rock ‘n’ Roll hits that many today refer to as “Retro” music.

Now, two years later, I wanted to get a similar concert for you to enjoy, but I wanted this one to have a live horn line. You who know me can certainly understand.  This whole style of “retro” music really took off when the Broadway show Jersey Boys hit the stage in New York and around the world. Of course, Jersey Boys is the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  Many of you are familiar with their music. I had the privilege of playing trumpet in Frankie’s horn line a few years back when he came through the region. I was amazed that I really knew every song on the playlist.  I’m glad kids today are becoming familiar with this music.

This is all being said to get to the concert we are presenting at the Niswonger a week from this Saturday on November 14. The Midtown Men is a group of four of the original cast from Jersey Boys. The thing I felt that set The Midtown Men apart from other similar groups touring today is that in addition to sounding very good, they tour with a live band and horn section.

You can check out a promo clip of them singing on our website: NPACVW.ORG.  I think you’ll really enjoy their music, wit, dance moves, and showmanship. We are already over 1,000 tickets sold, so if you want to get in on this concert, I wouldn’t wait long.

I always like to give you an update of how our upcoming shows are doing at the Niswonger in case you are thinking of attending and haven’t secured a seat yet.  We still have some seats available for “Veggie Tales Live!” on Tuesday, November 10.  Remember- this is a special 7 p.m. start time so the kids can get to bed a little earlier.

Mamma Mia! is sold out on Tuesday, November 24, but many are still buying up seats for the Wednesday, November 25, show. If you have family coming home for the holiday, this would be a great way to kick off you Thanksgiving weekend. Bring them to a Broadway show in Van Wert. Not many towns can offer such an amenity to family members.

This takes us into our Christmas holiday season. Mercy Me and Home Free are sold out, but some seats remain for the Dave Koz Christmas show on December 6, fewer for David Phelps on December 13, and then some seats remain for the DePue Brothers Christmas show on December 17.

So there you have it. That’s our update through the first half of this season. It’s proving to be a tremendously successful season, but I hope there will be some seats still available for you to enjoy an upcoming concert or show at the Niswonger.

Thank you for your support and we’ll see you soon!


POSTED: 11/03/15 at 10:53 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

“Veggie Tales Live” comes to the Niswonger on November 10 for an earlier-than-normal start time of 7 p.m.  If you are looking for an exceptional kid’s show that is both entertaining and morally positive for your child or grandchild, than “Veggie Tales” is the show for you.

Getting its start in 1993, this kids’ show took the children’s TV programming by storm!  Who would have ever thought that a bunch of talking and singing vegetables (and we all know vegetables are good for you) with names like Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber would become one of the most popular children’s shows of all time!

Based on Bible stories and Christian morals, “Veggie Tales” soon became a popular TV, video, and eventually live stage show. The stage show which we are bringing to Van Wert is inspired by a classic “Veggie Tales” favorite song, “Little Guys Can Do Big Things Too.” This live stage show encourages kids that even though they are small, they can be used by God to do big things.

We are starting the show 30 minutes earlier than our normal evening shows, so hopefully you can get the “little ones” back in their beds at a reasonable time while visions of cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkins, and asparagus dance in their wee little heads.

Jeffery-Mohr Dentistry in Van Wert, as well as First Federal of Van Wert and the Decatur Daily Democrat, brings the show to you. We thank them for bringing a positive message in a delightful show to town for young children to enjoy.  I’m sure it will be a memorable experience for those in attendance.  Certainly, the music and message will stick with everyone for a long time.

Because of these fine sponsors, we have been able to keep the ticket prices at an affordable rate, beginning at just $15. You can get tickets on line at NPACVW.ORG or in advance at the box office or at the door the evening of the show on November 10.  Remember, it’s a 7 p.m. start time!

Another wonderful show involving kids is going to be held this Sunday at 3 p.m.  Ethan Bortnick, star of two PBS specials, will be joined on stage by 100 middle school kids from Crestview and Lincolnview.  We are so pleased to offer this performance experience to these special students from our Van Wert County schools. They have been working on music for over two months and I’m sure are primed to raise the roof with pieces like “We are the World,” “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, “We’re All Family,” and “Lean on Me.”

It will be a wonderful Sunday afternoon of incredible entertainment as we bring one of PBS’s biggest stars to the stage of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. Tickets are going real fast. Just a few remain. I can’t guarantee there will be any left at the door this Sunday.

Join the Niswonger as we help celebrate our young people with two shows even adults will enjoy!


POSTED: 10/26/15 at 8:30 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Peter Kenneth Frampton became known to America in a huge way with his record breaking album in 1976, Frampton Comes Alive!  I was a junior in high school at the time and Peter Frampton had quickly become to my generation what Sinatra, Elvis, and The Beatles had to earlier generations.

With the release of Frampton Comes Alive! he became an instant success in the rock music genre.  The album was on the Billboard 200 for 97 weeks, of which 55 were in the top 40, and 10 weeks at the top.  His singing, songwriting, and amazing guitar riffs became a huge hit with stadium and arena crowds all over America.  There probably isn’t a music fan alive from the 70’s or 80’s who doesn’t instantly recall their days with Peter Frampton.

Recently, this rock legend decided he would create a short 12 city tour featuring a portion he always really enjoyed performing in his big rock shows; that being his acoustic set which he calls the Peter Frampton Raw Acoustic Tour.  Interestingly enough, this 12 city tour which takes him through the East Coast of the United States, begins and ends at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.  He opened his tour at the Niswonger PAC in Greenville, TN and will finish it at the Niswonger PAC in Van Wert.  I guess we could call this the Niswonger tour with Peter Frampton.

Fewer than 50 tickets remain for this finale concert in Van Wert, featuring one of Rock’s most influential singer-songwriter-guitarists of all time.  Frampton will be at the Niswonger in Van Wert this Saturday night beginning at 7:30 p.m.  As a special feature, his son, Julian will be opening the concert.

Peter Frampton actually has some Ohio ties, living several years in Cincinnati before recently moving to Nashville, Tennessee, where he currently resides.

Those of you who saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat now know what I was talking about last week.  We are still hearing rave reviews from those in attendance.  It may have been the most extraordinary Broadway Show to have ever graced our stage.  Kudos to our crack staff and volunteers who set the stage for this amazing show.

Next up on the Van Wert Broadway tour is Mamma Mia! on November 24 and 25.  The show on the 24th is sold out, but you can still get in on the 25th.  This is the day before Thanksgiving.  If you can dress the turkey in time, you can bring the entire family to the Niswonger for the most fun you’ve ever experienced before Thanksgiving.  Of course, Mamma Mia! features some of the best dance music ever created by the Swedish pop music group ABBA.

Following Mamma Mia! on our Broadway series will be Million Dollar Quartet on January 31. What a great Christmas gift these tickets would make!

For the kids and grandkids, don’t miss Bob, The Tomato, Larry the Cucumber and all their veggie friends as they bring their show, “Little Kids Can Do Big Things” to Van Wert.  This faith-based show is entertaining and morally appropriate for any child.  Don’t let your kids miss this one!  It happens on November 10 for one show at 7 p.m. — a half hour sooner than our normal evening shows.

Frampton, Mamma Mia!, and dancing and singing vegetables all come alive on the Niswonger Stage in the next few weeks. Don’t miss them!


POSTED: 10/21/15 at 8:07 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Van Wert joins with the likes of Detroit, Columbus and Cincinnati to present one of the biggest PBS stars of all-time, Ethan Bortnick.  This young entertainer and amazing musician will bring his blockbuster show, “The Power of Music” to the Niswonger on Sunday, November 1, for a 3 p.m. matinee performance.

Appearing on stage with Ethan will be over 100 kids from Lincolnview and Crestview schools. It will be a huge concert celebration of the power of music.  For a small clip of what you might be in store for, go to our website NPACVW.ORG and click on events and then video under Ethan Bortnick. You won’t want to miss this concert event!

Ethan Bortnick

Ethan Bortnick

Mrs. Hancock of Crestview and Mrs. Korte of Lincolnview have been preparing their kids to join Ethan on four special musical arrangements that will certainly inspire, entertain and thrill the audience.  Be ready for some surprises!

I imagine the kids are getting excited to join this 14-year-old musical prodigy. He visited the Niswonger back in 2010 at the age of 9. Now, five years later, he returns, only to be more popular than before!  I really expected his popularity to wane as he got older, but he returned to record a second PBS special in 2014 and made it even better and more successful.  This past summer, WBGU aired “The Power of Music” to rave reviews!

Reviews have come from all over the country: “This kid is amazing.”-- Jay Leno, “The Tonight Show”;  “Ethan’s imagination and ability to create music from stories is unbelievable.”– QUINCY JONES; and “Ethan Bortnick’s show at the Las Vegas Hilton … was history-making. It was a sold-out crowd, and there was so much heart and soul, plus energy felt from the audience. It was a spectacular night, 90 minutes of pure entertainment.”-- Las Vegas Sun.

This is the type of entertainer our kids from Crestview and Lincolnview Schools will have the opportunity to share the stage and perform with.  What an amazing opportunity — all because someone had a dream to build a performing arts center in Van Wert, Ohio.  Dreams do come true!

There are still a few tickets remaining for this show.  Call the box office at 419.238.1743 (Monday-Friday, noon-4 p.m.) or go online for your purchase at NPACVW.ORG.

This Saturday, Broadway returns to Van Wert in Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice’s, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  There are two shows, one at 2 p.m. and one at 7:30 p.m.  I talked about this show in last week’s column and mentioned how it is one of my all-time favorite shows.  It not only depicts a wonderful and enriching story, but does it in a very entertaining way of storytelling, acting and, of course, music.  With two shows, we can accommodate well over 2,000 people. Get your tickets now and you will thank me.  It’s a great show!

Some have asked if that was a real car on stage with illusionist Mike Super last Saturday night.  I can assure you that the Ford Fusion was real and it came right off the lot of StateWide Ford, who along with Van Wert Federal Savings Bank, are our season sponsors at the Niswonger.  Thanks Andy C. and Steve Munroe.  We promise to return the car … once Mike Super finds it!


POSTED: 10/13/15 at 4:53 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

One of Broadway’s finest tandems of modern time, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice teamed together to produce a wonderful story taken from the book of Genesis in the Bible.  Chapter 37 of Genesis tells the story of Joseph, one of Jacob’s many sons, as a matter of fact, his favorite son.  As would be expected, his brothers became very jealous of their younger brother who received favorite treatment from their father.  Because of his extreme love and admiration for Joseph, his father gave him a tunic or coat of many brilliant colors.  This was taken as a sign of favoritism and drew even more hatred to Joseph from his brothers.

You can read Genesis 37 to get the rest of the story, but it’s a fascinating story of love, hatred, redemption and forgiveness.  We should all strive to be more like Joseph in this story.

Joseph & Technicolor Dreamcoat logoIn 1969, Lloyd Webber experienced great success with the rather controversial Jesus Christ Superstar.  On its coattails and even presented as a “follow-up” to Superstar, Weber and Rice teamed to release what would become a superstar Broadway show in itself entitled, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  After several years of performing and adjusting, Joseph eventually came to public admiration when Donny Osmond performed the lead role of Joseph.  It became a huge hit and the rest is as they say, (Broadway) history.

Since its inception, it is estimated there have been well over 20,000 performances throughout the world. London’s West End, Canada’s notorious Toronto Theatre, New York’s Broadway, and thousands of high school and amateur theatre groups have performed Joseph.

In less than two weeks, we are bringing the national professional tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to the Niswonger in Van Wert. It is a wonderful story told with lots of color and amazing music that will stick with you forever.  Of course, it’s Andrew Lloyd Webber!

I remember seeing it in Chicago in the early 1990s. My wife and I traveled with the Van Wert High School choir to see a performance with Donny Osmond as the lead.  I believe it was my very first Broadway show and I was amazed and hooked. The pageantry of especially this show, the color, the music, the singing, and special effects, were something to behold.

I cannot recommend this show more highly!  We are so fortunate to bring this to Van Wert for two shows: 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 17. If you had asked me, as I was sitting in the Chicago theater back in 1993, if we would ever see something like this in Van Wert, I would have thought you were crazy!  Well, here we go, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat right here in Van Wert, Ohio, in a beautiful theater: the Niswonger.

Get your tickets now for either the afternoon or evening show. Our box office is open Monday-Friday, noon-4 p.m. Online orders can be placed at NPACVW.ORG.

I am so pleased and proud to have us offer Joseph to you. There is comedy, laughter, music, and even a little Elvis (not confirmed to actually be in the Bible, as far as I know!)  But hey!  It’s Broadway!  I hope to see you on the 17th.


POSTED: 10/06/15 at 4:34 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

I have to admit, when the idea of a speaker series was initially proposed, it was hard for me to get excited.  After all, we are a performing arts center, I thought.  Well, now that we have had numerous speakers at the Niswonger, I find myself not only enjoying, but looking forward to the next one.

It now is quite obvious what our mission is when you drive by on State Route 118 South.  Three big, colorful banners hang on the front of the Performing Arts Center stating our mission: educate, inspire, and entertain.

Last night (Monday) in the Van Wert County Foundation Saltzgaber Music Hall, we discovered what inspiration is all about. Buckeye football All-American and NFL All-Pro linebacker Chris Spielman talked to about 800 people and you could have heard a pin drop. It wasn’t the sporting accolades that caught everyone’s attention: it was his message of hope and courage that captivated the audience members. His wife, Stephanie, battled breast cancer five times before finally succumbing to the deadly disease in 2009. She left four children and a devoted husband.

If you are not familiar with the Stephanie and Chris Spielman story, and if you were not able to attend last night, you can google and read on line or better yet, purchase and read the book That’s Why I’m Here. It was a night of laughter, tears, and certainly inspiration. This is quite often what we experience at our Niswonger Speaker events.

Next up in that series will be another story of immense courage and forgiveness when Luke Zamperini shares the story of his father, Louis Zamperini.  This will be on March 6 of next year.  Many of you may have seen the movie Unbroken, which was in theaters this summer. The book titled the same is an incredible read and can be purchased or checked out at the Brumback Library. A community read is being held where those who have read the book can come together to discuss it.  That first community read will be held in the First Federal Lecture Hall on November 12.

The Louis Zamperini story is an amazing one of courage and redemption.  I can’t recommend it enough. Then to have the opportunity to hear his son, Luke share first hand experiences with us will be truly amazing. Louis was a World War II soldier who survived 47 days on a raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean before finally being rescued, only to have it be by a Japanese warship.  He then became a POW and went through the most gruesome treatment imaginable. The real story however, is the redemptive side of Louis Zamperini. You just must come and hear his son, Luke, on March 6. He grew up hearing his dad tell stories we could not imagine.

Inspiration? We could all use some, and probably more often than we think. This is what many of our speakers offer and I, for one, am glad I was talked into a Speaker Series at the Niswonger.  I invite you to be inspired at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.


POSTED: 09/29/15 at 10:14 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

I find it a little difficult to write this column for the sake it may sound like I am tooting my own horn, but I do believe this is worth talking about. You may or may not have heard about the Van Wert’s First United Methodist Senior Chancel Choir, but they have been invited to a rather large international event.  I say “they” and I really mean “we,” since I happen to be their director.

The choir recently was invited to sing as part of the worldwide United Methodist General Conference. It is held every four years and this year will be in Portland, Oregon. It all began when I received an email invitation to submit YouTube video and a résumé of the choir if we would like to be considered to perform as one of the musical ensembles for General Conference. I really didn’t realize the whole realm of things, but knew I had some video of our choir and just thought I might as well send it in.  I had no idea how many would be accepted or how many might even audition.

So, I sent a couple selections of our choir to the General Conference people in charge of selecting ensembles.  I didn’t tell anyone I had sent them, thinking that when we didn’t get accepted, no one would be disappointed. After several months had passed, I actually forgot about the whole idea and was ready to move on. Then, early this summer, I received an email stating that the United Methodist General Conference would like to invite the Van Wert Chancel Choir to sing at the opening day luncheon and worship service on May 10, 2016.  I had no idea how many sent in audition materials, but was very excited about the possibility.

This summer, I, along with three others involved in worship at First UM Church, attended a workshop in Indianapolis on music and worship. There, I met Rev. Laura Bartlet, who is in charge of all worship services at the 2016 General Conference and was in charge of selecting choirs to perform at this 11-day event. I was able to find out that we were chosen out of nearly 100 music ensembles who auditioned. Twenty-seven were selected. We will be singing for thousands of delegates and attendees on opening day in the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. I guess it’s a pretty big deal!

The choir is in the process of raising funds for a five-day trip out west, starting in Seattle, Washington, and ending in Portland. You will probably hear about different fundraisers throughout the year as the choir set a goal of trying to raise nearly $40,000 to cover half of the cost.  The remaining amount will be the responsibility of each member. I do know the choir is planning a pre-game dinner on October 30, before the Cougars’ last home game of the season. Stay tuned for plans, but it will be delicious and it will be held in the dining hall of the First UM Church.

We are honored and excited to represent the Northwest Plains District and the West Ohio Conference at this worldwide conference, which incorporates Africa, Asia, the United States and Europe. It will be an exciting adventure and trip for our choir. We are limited to 44 total people on the trip, which will include many sightseeing expeditions along the way, but if you would be interested in being included, please feel free to contact me.  We are looking for great singers to help represent us to the thousands of attendees.

The First UM Choir has a rich heritage of singing. It has had the pleasure of traveling in 1981 to England with then director, Larry Schaufelberger. Larry, along with others before him, helped establish a legacy of excellence in choral singing at First Church. It was that legacy that laid the groundwork for us to also travel to New York City and sing at St. John the Divine in 2001. I and the many fine singers I have been blessed to lead have been the recipients of their fine work and are excited to continue that legacy as we represent Van Wert and the United States at General Conference in Portland, Oregon, on May 10, 2016.


POSTED: 09/23/15 at 6:25 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

I know it may seem a little strange to talk football in a column called “Music in Van Wert,” but it is a story of inspiration we are proud to present at the Niswonger. Chris Spielman, one of Ohio State’s finest linebackers of all time (elected to the College Football Hall of Fame) and four-time NFL Pro Bowler with the Detroit Lions, will be speaking at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on Monday, September 28, at 7:30 p.m.

Outside his enormous accomplishments on the football field, Chris is an all-pro person. His story of courage and inspiration actually centers on the story of his wife’s courageous fight with breast cancer. Stephanie and Chris married following Chris’ graduation in 1988 from The Ohio State University. They were raising four children when Stephanie was diagnosed with breast cancer. It would take five times before Stephanie finally succumbed to cancer in 2009.

The story of their fight with cancer took many turns, including Chris actually taking a leave from the NFL in 1998 to help Stephanie and the family fight and cope with this dreaded disease. Chris’s story and the many challenges that took place is what he will be sharing with our audience on September 28.  The book, That’s Why I’m Here, tells the story of Chris and Stephanie Spielman. In the book, you will discover the courage and strength they pulled from their faith in God. You will have the chance to get a copy of this story as Chris plans on bringing some books with him to Van Wert for sale following his talk and Q & A period.

Chris Spielman as a linebacker for the Ohio State Buckeyes. (photo submitted)

Chris Spielman as a linebacker for the Ohio State Buckeyes. (photo submitted)

Few professional athletes would take a leave from their profession for an entire year to take care of their spouse. When Chris left the Buffalo Bills in 1998, he was at the top of his game. He had been selected to four Pro Bowls with the Lions and had just set a team record for tackles with the Bills.  I remember the media attention he received for making this courageous decision. Unfortunately, when he returned the following year, he experienced a neck injury while trying to make a comeback with the Cleveland Browns.

Chris is still the all-time leader of the Detroit Lions in tackles. He now is a college football announcer during the weekends for ESPN and just last weekend announced the Michigan football game. During the week, he takes occasional speaking engagements like ours to tell the story of the love of his life, Stephanie, and their courageous fight with breast cancer.

Chris started the Stephanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer.

We are extremely thankful for Dale and Sarah Burden who made us aware of Spielman and the story of fighting this disease. They are helping sponsor the event. Lee Kinstle GM Sales and Service is also helping bring this to the Niswonger, as well as The Ohio State University Alumni Association of Paulding and Van Wert Counties, Williamson Insurance, Paulding Putnam Electric Cooperative, US Bank of Van Wert and Convoy, Walmart, Dark Horse Productions, and 1150 WIMA. Radio sportscaster and personality Vince Koza will be interviewing Chris that day.

It will be a very special day of inspiration. I kind of think there may even be a few football stories as well.  It will be interesting to hear Chris’ ideas of this year’s Buckeye football team’s chances of repeating as National Champions. Tickets are available at the box office the day of the event and online and in advance at the Niswonger Box Office. Tickets range from $10-$25.

Not to be outdone, our season kicks off this Sunday night with 2011 “American Idol” winner and Country music star Scotty McCreery. Although the show is nearly sold out, you might show up Sunday night to see if some seats are released for sale from performer holds. We are expecting a huge crowd and many fans from all over the country will emerge on Van Wert’s Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

The excitement is building as we “Color Your World with Entertainment and Inspiration” this season at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center!


POSTED: 09/16/15 at 6:52 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert