Barb Ballint - Martins Ferry
By KAYLA VAN DYNE
Times Leader Staff Writer
Barb Ballint of Martins Ferry is July’s “Hey!?That’s my Neighbor” honoree.
For Barb Ballint, volunteering in her local community of Martins Ferry is nothing out of the ordinary for her.
Among some of the events that Ballint volunteers for include the Relay for Life of Belmont County, Martins Ferry's Park and Recreation Center, Martins Ferry schools as an aide and Queen of Queens.
"I do a lot of volunteering at the school. If someone needs help, I am the type of person (that will volunteer). I always hope someone will help me if I need help, so I always try to help," said Ballint. "I like to stay busy."
Ballint, the youngest of seven children, is a firm believer in volunteering.
"I just like giving back to the community. I've been blessed. I have a great family and friends. I was born and raised in Martins Ferry."
Ballint's beliefs come from the examples set forth by her parents. Many of these examples included her mother filling the role as a band parent for 18 years. Her father worked as a CEO for Elby's Restaurant, which meant she and her six siblings helped out at Elby's.
Ballint said that she tells people that she is the youngest of seven children so "I will interrupt, I talk loud, and I eat fast." During a family reunion, one sister described her as the ringleader of the group, which lead into the conversation of how one time, she was an actual honorary ringleader when she dressed as the Elby's Big Boy.
This lead Ballint to talk about other times when she volunteered to dress up as the Elby's Big Boy, and she shared one of her favorite stories. She wore the costume at the then Elby's-sponsored 20K race, and it was a very hot day. "In the costume, you could only see out of the mouth," said Ballint. As she was walking up the steps of the WesBanco Arena, Ballint tripped and fell forward, mostly because she couldn't see. As she put her hands down to catch herself, Big Boy's head popped off and rolled across the steps, which frightened multiple kids as she blindly felt around for her head. This is just one of the many stories she has.
Ballint became interested in working with Relay for Life while her daughter, Chelsea, was in college at Ohio University Eastern.
"(My daughter) was president for the Colleges Against Cancer organization at OUE, and unfortunately, I lost my dad to cancer, so we became very passionate," said Ballint. "I started working with them. We have always donated. ... But I really got involved when she went to OUE."
Ballint's daughter has gone on to work for the American Cancer Society.
One of Ballint's main goals is to put the fun back into fund-raising, but according to her, it works.
"We fund-raise a lot. I have met some amazing people. It's a great opportunity," said Ballint.
Outside of the Relay for Life, Ballint is in charge of the Betty Zane Day Race, serving as the race director. All of the proceeds will go towards her team, "Riders for a Cure" for Relay for Life.
Ballint works as an aide and paraprofessional for Martins Ferry Schools, where she is able to teach seniors the importance of volunteering.
"I am trying to teach the high school kids the importance of volunteering, so that started as a group of seniors. Every year, we have a group of seniors, and they volunteer and fund-raise throughout the year. I think it is important for them to know the importance of volunteering, and they know the money they raise is going to a good cause."
In the last four years that she has worked with the seniors, many of them have been affected by cancer.
The very busy Ballint is a mother of two, Chelsea and Logan, and she married her high school sweetheart, Scott. According to Ballint, Scott is on board with many, if not all, of her fund-raisers and events.
"A lot of the things I do, I don't do alone. Scott and I do everything together," said Ballint. "We've been married 30 years. We were high school sweethearts."
Ballint became involved with the Park and Recreation Center when her husband was on the Park and Recreation board. At the time, Ballint was working for the schools. In her time at the center, she has organized free swim and zumba classes.
"I am just trying to get the community back involved in the park and rec district and take advantage of what we have," said Ballint. "I don't think people realize how lucky they are to have a city pool and a recreation facility."
While Ballint has lived in several places, she could not imagine raising her children anywhere else but in Martins Ferry.