Nonprofits big winner at Chamber Challenge in Wilkes-Barre

i Feb 15th 2017

By Brigid Edmunds, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

Event meant to showcase city’s offerings

WILKES-BARRE — Prominent area residents answered multiple-choice and true-and-false questions Wednesday night.

They even participated in a “lightning round.”

Audience members, equipped with clappers and noise makers, cheered them on.

It was a scene that would have made Steve Harvey proud. And it was all to win a bit of money for area nonprofits.

The Chamber Challenge, sponsored by Coal Creative in conjunction with the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, was held in the THINK Center, just off Public Square.

The event pitted the Red Team, playing for the Riverfront Parks Committee, against the Blue Team, playing for the Children’s Service Center.

Will Beekman, executive director of the F.M. Kirby Center, served as host for the night.

Lindsay Bezick, director of the Wilkes-Barre Chamber, said she was happy with turnout for the event.

“We’re just so excited,” she said.

Bezick said the chamber wanted people to come and see the THINK Center and support the organizations, but also have an opportunity to connect with other professionals in the city and surrounding area.

“It’s all about the connection,” Bezick said, noting that each team consisted of residents in different professional stages — from student to chamber member.

“We really want to focus on the big picture of connecting everyone all the way through a career life cycle.”

The Chamber Challenge had four rounds, each with a different theme. The first round was multiple-choice questions about the Wyoming Valley. The second round — “Heyna or no” — was a true-false portion and started off with contestants and Beekman debating the proper pronunciation of “heyna.”

The third round served as a lightning round of questions and left both teams tied going into the fourth and final round.

In the last round, both teams were given 15 minutes to come up with an event to raise money for their nonprofit. The teams pitched the ideas to a panel of judges made up of John Aciukewicz of CASA Luzerne County; Sara Gorgone Peperno of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Association of the Blind; and Kathi Bankes, 2016 chamber Volunteer of the Year.

In the end, the Red Team took home first place and the proceeds from the night for the Riverfront Parks Committee and will use the funds to host a fundraiser for the committee. The Blue Team took home a $1,000 marketing package for the Children’s Service Center.

Linda Rowe, chamber ambassador and member of the Red Team, said she loves Wilkes-Barre and wants more events like the Chamber Challenge.

“This is the kind of stuff we need,” Rowe said.

Rowe wants people to realize the good that happens in Wilkes-Barre and all the city has to offer.

“I want people to feel good about living here,” she said.