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Going the extra mile

Ed Gmyrek BA ’65, and his wife Gayle have grown accustomed to stares as they drive down the streets of their Florida neighborhood. After all, folks don’t see too many polar bears in the sunshine state.

For the past nine years the Gmyreks have zipped around The Villages, Florida, the 75,000-person retirement community they call home, in an orange and black ONU-themed golf cart, complete with a giant polar bear decal on the front.

“People see that polar bear and they give a strange look,” said Ed Gmyrek. “When we first got it, we were getting questions every day. People wanted to know what the polar bear was for, so I’d tell them all about ONU.”

The stares his golf cart often receives in Florida gave way to smiles and cheers this weekend in Ohio as Gmyrek held the honor of carrying Klondike in the annual Homecoming parade.

“The reaction today had been great, but what was really funny were the looks we got on the interstate,” he said.

Since retiring eleven years ago, Ed and Gayle have been regulars at homecoming, flying up every year to see old friends and meet new ones. But when he was told that he could carry Klondike in the parade if he brought his golf cart, Ed rented a trailer and drove the 1,500 miles north to Ada, his ONU golf cart drawing attention the whole way.

When asked why he decided to paint his golf cart bright orange, Gmyrek didn’t hesitate with his answer. “Why not,” he said with a smile.

For Gmyrek, the golf cart is his way of sharing his love of Northern. While he understands that not every alumnus is going to show his or her ONU spirit like he does, Gmyrek believes that everyone can do something to benefit Northern.

“I think if they can remember someone who might have helped them go through school, that maybe they can help somebody else. It doesn’t have to be a lot, a little donation for someone who can’t afford their books, for example. It’s a small thing we can do as alums, but it’s a big thing to the student.”