Thunderstorms threatened a fundraising carnival held at Tinapple Park on June 21.

Thunderstorms threatened a fundraising carnival held at Tinapple Park on June 21.

The carnival was being hosted by four Scioto Darby Elementary School students for a fellow fourth-grade student who will enter fifth grade at the beginning of the new school year, and a second-grade student headed for third grade.

Alexis Piacik and Cassie Howard first came up with the idea to aid their friend and classmate Angel Sharp and Christian Engle before the end of the school year.

The Sharps and Engles were forever linked on April 10 when crossing guard Dianna Sharp, Angel's mother, died protecting Engle from the full force of a dump truck passing by the school.

It did not take long for classmate O'Neal Jaymes Saunders to pitch in when he heard about the Sharp/Engle Carnival and Raffle idea.

Then Blake Estep, a fourth-grade student in another classroom, also wanted to be on the fundraising committee.

Soon the whole community was helping in an attempt to raise money for college funds and medical bills for the two students.

The only threat looming over their heads was an impending storm.

Kim Doucher, Piacik's mother, said prior to the carnival that she does not pray nearly as often as she should, but she was on her knees asking God to delay the storm when the weather forecast turned sour.

"I said 'You can't do this to these kids'," she recalled saying. "Now it looks like it is going to be a glorious day. I am not a big believer in coincidences."

The night before the event, Howard said, she had her fingers crossed hoping the weather would turn out well.

"If it does rain tomorrow we will go to Sunday," Estep said Saturday night as they prepared to set up the stage.

He was matter-of-fact in that he planned to take a local minister up on an offer of holding the carnival at a nearby church if it rained.

Estep said their goal was to raise more than $6,000, giving both families at least $3,000.

Doucher said the event riased more than $12,000, including $8,000 from the carnival itself. The rest came from adavnced raffle ticket sales and donations.

"The money goes to a good cause," Howard said, "so it is not like you are just wasting money to buy something."

Saunders said he planned to enlist Engle's help in selling tickets at the carnival, but some of the others said Engle would not be selling tickets.

Asking people to buy tickets was Saunders' favorite part of the fundraising experience.

"It makes you feel grown up," he said.

It was important for the community to turn out for the event, he said, so they could see Angle and help the families by purchasing tickets.

His father, O'Neal Saunders, said the children worked hard on the carnival, but had fun doing it.

Doucher took the youngsters to the Franklin County Courthouse to sell tickets.

Saunders said the judges not only contributed, but some got into a little competition over who would buy the most. "When we went to the courthouse," Saunders said, "somebody bought 17."

On the day of the carnival, Piacik was ready to help her mother at the concession stand.

"My mom and I are the only ones with concession stand experience," she said.

Each of the children was given a Walkie-Talkie to use during the event.

Suzanne Estep, Blake's mother, said their voices could be heard talking back and forth amid the static.

"The adults didn't have a Walkie-Talkie," she said. "We had to ask them to have someone bring ice."

Her son had hoped to win the prize of having lunch with Bobby Rahal.

"I do sort of like to see race cars," he said. "But I think it would be really cool to meet Bobby Rahal."

As it turned out, someone else claimed the prize.

School board member Andy Teater and his children won the grand prize of a Wii.

Not a drop of rain fell on the carnival.

"My husband and his friends were tearing down and the wind picked up," said Suzanne Estep of her husband John.

She said they had to hang onto things to keep them from being blown around and at times it felt like they might be blown away. The trailers were packed and pulling away as the storm hit.

"I've got to tell you, a lot of people were praying that it would hold off," she said. "It was almost humorous. As soon as we finished, it rolled in. It was like, 'Okay, I listened. I held off as long as I could. Now, here it comes.' We couldn't have asked for a better day."

Robyn Howard, Cassie's mother, recounted the money Sunday night, but Estep said she thought the amount of money collected would double the $6,000 being sought.

"The whole park was lit up with people and the bands," Estep said. "You could tell it was a carnival. It was so worth it."

ThisWeek staff reporter Chris Alexis contributed to this story.