GREEN  What did two seniors from Portage Lakes Career Center (PLCC) do to receive hugs from 60 women?

The two Facility Operations and Maintenance (FOM) class members, Senior Kail Cramer, of Green, and Senior Tyler Sullinger, of Manchester, built the Dragon Dream Team a new huge pink chair.

For the past four years, along with the Enviroscape Technology classes, students have helped spruce up the training facility of the Dragon Dream Team, which is located at Craftsman Park. Through PLCC, the maintenance class has painted, cleared debris and performed general maintenance while Enviroscape students have planted flowers, did spring cleanup and spread mulch. 

FOM instructor Dale Dunlevy, said it was noticed last year that the large pink chair, which is used as an attraction for many of team’s events, had deteriorated to the point beyond repair. The FOM class decided to use the money earned by selling stools, wooded puzzles, wooden benches and recycling paper to buy the material and make a new chair. They had raised $1,200 and it took $1,188 to build the chair.

The students listened to the team and built the big pink chair to suit its needs. The chair needed to be lighter and a foot narrower to facilitate all the moving of the chair throughout the year. Dunlevy said by using western red cedar instead of pressure treated yellow pine, they were able to reduce the total weight by 100 pounds.

“It now weighs 364 pounds, which will be greatly appreciated by the gentlemen who have to move it,” Dunlevy said. 

The red cedar will also allow the stain to adhere better and keep the chair looking good for many years.

Throughout the process, students learned how to make and sell products that people will want to buy. They learned how to evaluate material choices based on weight, cost and ability to withstand the elements.

“At first we wanted to use pink polywood since it would never need to be painted," Dunleavy said. "But that would have tripled the weight and more than doubled the cost. When comparing lumber, red cedar was one that was light enough and took stain well."

Students also set deadlines and worked within a budget in order to finish the chair.

Dunlevy said what he has enjoyed the most about the project was watching the students do something for someone else that required time and commitment to complete.

“Too many of our young people think everything should be given to them – instant gratification," he said. "This chair required planning and slowly going through a methodical process to achieve completion.” 

The pieces were carefully cut from the 347 board feet of red cedar. Prior to assembly, the boards received two coats of stain, with a third coat added after assembly. 

“When the lumber was all laid out, it really made the task look very challenging," Dunleavy said.

It took two days to assemble the chair. During the following month, other features were added such as the stainless-steel dragon, made by the welding program; attaching the wheel brackets; and adding polywood to the ground contact areas of the chair.

“I hope this chair is used for the next 20 years and my students, who are all from the Portage Lakes area, can take others past it and show it off with pride,” Dunlevy said.

There are 90 members on the Dragon Dream Team which is made up of breast cancer survivors. Last year, the team finished third in a race in Italy out of 135 teams of breast cancer survivors from around the world. Member Toby Bothel said their season is just getting started. She said their first mission is to take care of each other and share with the community that there is hope after breast cancer.

“We leave the cancer at the dock and become the athlete,” she said.

They race about four times a year throughout the country and then host a race at Portage Lakes to raise money for their outreach project called Boatloads of Hope.

“Our goal is to support through the sport," Bothel said.

The team has been together since 2007 and the chair was donated to them about five years ago. It was at another location prior to moving to the teams training area. Team member Dorothy Farkas said she just asked Dunlevy if the FOM class could repair the chair and from there it took off to a beautiful chair made especially for the team.

Sullinger said he had a lot of fun and enjoyment out of building the chair. He said he learned to factor in the labor, material costs and how long it would take them to finish the project, which began in January.

Cramer said they started from scratch with brand new cedar which will be protected from the weather.

“We decided to build a brand-new chair as the other one was decaying," said Cramer.

Cramer and Sullinger unveiled the chair to the group. The ladies were so thrilled with their work they cheered and applauded. It is was specialized for the team as the welding class made a dragon for the chair and then the Dragon Team name was engraved on the front of the chair.

All the ladies hugged and thanked Cramer and Sullinger and team members took many pictures with the builders. Each of the builders were given Home Depot gift cards.

Those interested can contact the Dragon Team through dragondreamteam.org.