United Way plans Hero Roast
VICTOR IZZO/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Pictured with UWCC Roast Committee Chairman Dave Reinbold (standing) is Palmerton resident Geno Roberts, who will be one of two honorees at the UWCC's Third Annual Community Service Hero Roast.
The United Way of Carbon County (UWCC) will be holding its Third Annual Community Service Hero Roast on Friday, April 16 at 6 p.m. at The Galleria at Split Rock.
The celebrity roast is one of the United Way of Carbon County's biggest fundraisers of the year where they select people who are active in their community to honor.
They are individuals who are heavily involved in the community through their businesses or through their jobs and give back in many, many ways through things such as the celebrity roast where they are willing to "put their head on the chopping block" to have fun and raise funds for their community in the process.
This year's men of the hour are Geno Roberts and Dave Rodrigues.
Roberts has done a lot of volunteer work in Palmerton and Northern Lehigh where in the past he and his brother, along with some friends, built a lot of things such as a weight room, and baseball dugouts at the Palmerton High School, and a concession stand on Delaware Avenue for the knee-hi kids, all for no charge.
It was all volunteer work with the local businesses in Palmerton donating all the materials to help out the community.
Roberts also has a total of 37 years coaching experience in football, basketball, and baseball, many of them for free.
A former employee of the New Jersey Zinc and Geo Chemicals, Roberts lost his legs to Diabetes three years ago but it hasn't slowed him down and he now works as a gym attendant at Jimmy's Gym on Route 209 Interchange Road in Lehighton.
Over the years he's had 29 operations involving his legs, eyes, and open heart surgery but he hasn't let all this drag him down.
A member of the Jehovah Witnesses, he is a very religious man with a positive outlook on life.
Through it all, he said that everyone's been very supportive of him and he credits faith, family, and friends with helping him keep his positive outlook.
Roberts says that he is married to a real good woman, Cindy, for 39 years and he has three great children and five grandchildren who he spends a lot of time with when he's not at the gym.
His oldest son is Ryan, his daughter's name is Becky, and his youngest son is Steven.
Roberts has a twin brother Darryl who also lives in Palmerton and is three minutes younger than him.
Roasters for Geno will include his friends and family.
Rodrigues, a lifelong resident of Palmerton, is the Director of District Facilities for the Palmerton Area School District and volunteers as the Competition Coordinator for Special Olympics of Carbon County.
He has been involved with football and athletics all his life and had coached Youth football in Palmerton when his children were younger and he helped start a football camp in Palmerton for Youth football and cheerleading.
He was also a Secretary for the West End Recreation Association when they took an old skating rink in the West end of Palmerton and converted it into a ball field which is still in use today.
Rodrigues has put in many hours as a volunteer for the Carbon County chapter of Special Olympics since it was reorganized in 2007 after having been inactive for some time.
As a coach, he is always encouraging and challenging the athletes to try different events that may be a little bit out of their comfort zone in competition such as bowling, track and field, and floor hockey.
Rodrigues is married to Christine and they have three children, a son Bo, a daughter Delina, and a son Darris.
He is a member of the Masons in Palmerton and has also has served on his church council in the past.
Roasters for Rodrigues are expected to be: friends Jeff Way; Josie Harry; Chris Anthony; and Diane Siani along with his brother Dennis Rodrigues; his oldest son Bo; and his wife Christine.
The Community Service Hero Roast is open to the general public with all proceeds going to the United Way of Carbon County which benefits over a dozen Community Service Agencies in Carbon County.
Tickets will be available at Jimmy's Gym; Jim Thorpe Auto Rental; KNTB Bank at Giant Market, Palmerton Hotel, and the Country Harvest supermarket in Palmerton.
A cash bar, prizes, music and dancing will all be part of the evening's fun.
For more information, call Miriam Ray, Split Rock Resorts at 570-722-9111 or Dave Reinbold, Roast Committee Chairman at (570) 872-4248