Benefit Dinner Set For Jan. 26

Annual spaghetti feast will help Longhorn wrestling program

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The annual benefit spaghetti dinner, which is hosted by the Payson High School wrestling program and is one of the most well-attended benefits on the prep sports scene, will be held Jan. 26

The location and times, however, have not been finalized. Traditionally, the much anticipated event is held 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Rim Country Middle School cafeteria.

Coach Casey Woodall says, “I have not heard back from RCMS on approval to use the cafeteria,” but he expects to release the time and place of the benefit soon.

This is the 22nd year the event has been held with the help of Mark Fumusa and friends in Pine and Strawberry.

Some of those who have assisted Mark put on the dinner include Norma Jean Scibetta, Paul Koren, Suzanne Fumusa, Joe Scibetta, Jacque Lee and Marilyn Koren.

The scrumptious “all you can eat” spaghetti dinners are rapidly becoming the stuff of which legends are made.

Most every Longhorn coach, fan, parent and player has enjoyed one or more of the meals and fondly remembers the good times associated with the annual benefit.

Longtime assistant wrestling coach and PHS counselor Don Heizer recalls the origins of the spaghetti dinners, more than two decades ago.

“Dennis (Pirch, former PHS wrestling coach) and I were looking for ways to earn money so the kids could go to Disneyland during the Christmas vacation,” he said.

“We came up with the spaghetti dinners. They earned good money, and we’ve never stopped doing them.”

For the first dinner, Heizer and Pirch enlisted the cooking expertise of Pine Realtor Mark Fumusa, who had two sons on the team.

His two sons have long since departed PHS, but Fumusa continues to play a huge role in hosting the event.

For the next benefit dinner, Fumusa and his six volunteer assistants will spend the entire day cooking a spaghetti feast for the more than 500 people expected to attend.

The cooks will use about 110 pounds of spaghetti noodles, 120 pounds of ground beef, four gallons of homemade salad dressing and 100 pounds of flour for for homemade rolls prepared by Jacque Lee.

As delicious as the homemade meals are, they have become much more than an Italian dinner.

“It’s a time and place where we can all gather and enjoy the fellowship of one another,” Heizer remembers. “It’s the type of things we can do in a small town.”

The benefit also produces money the wrestling team uses for travel and to purchase equipment not available in the school’s athletic budget.

In past years, the dinners have earned more than $2,000 annually, thanks to donations of food items from the Mazatzal Casino, Bashas’ and Safeway.

Heizer recall that without the money earned at the dinners, “we wouldn’t have been able to do some of the things we did for kids.”

The coach also sees the dinners as events that benefit everyone.

“It’s a win-win situation,” he said. “The team earns the money it needs and the people get a great meal at a low price.”

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