Schneck physicians compete in pumpkin carving contest to benefit scholarships

A group of Schneck Medical Center physicians each took a pumpkin to the operating table Saturday for the inaugural Operation Pumpkin.

The pumpkin carving contest, held on the grassy lot across Tipton Street from the hospital during the Seymour Oktoberfest, raised money to benefit a couple of the Schneck Foundation scholarships.

Lydia Benter, the foundation’s coordinator, said voting opened online for the competition three weeks before, and $1 would buy a vote.

Whether people wanted to vote for their favorite physician or pumpkin, Benter said that was up to those casting the ballots.

“We wanted to have a fun event where physicians could interact with people in the community,” she said.

A trophy adorned with pumpkins went to the physician with the most votes. The trophy will be passed along to the winners of future Operation Pumpkin competitions.

The victor of the first competition is Dr. Amanda Dick, who carved up a pumpkin of Mike Wazowski from the film “Monsters, Inc.” She wound up with 719 votes.

Second place went to Dr. Kris Williams, who received 529 votes for an elaborate pumpkin carving display intended to look like a person undergoing double knee surgery.

Dr. Andrew Dick teamed up with Williams on his display by putting up a drape to shield Williams’ patient from seeing the surgery and crafting an anesthesiologist who was watching the patient at the head of the operating table.

While it was a collaborative effort, their votes weren’t combined, and either side could be voted on.

Dr. Steven Windley took third place with 383 votes for carving a pumpkin with large teeth that was “eating” a leg that was hanging out of its mouth.

He unfortunately did not win any awards for being one of the only physicians wearing a costume when he showed up as a long strip of bacon.

Dick said she had planned on carving a raven, but the surface of the pregutted pumpkin she received for the contest didn’t seem ideal for her design, so she started to make a cyclops before settling on Mike Wazowski.

“You get in the flow,” she said. “Carving pumpkins is pretty low stress, so what’s the worst that could happen?”

After carving out some of the front of the pumpkin, she took the pieces she had and stuck them on the top of it to represent horns.

Dick said she carves pumpkins every year, but this was the first time she had carved a Disney character.

“It’s a monster, but he’s not too scary,” she said, “He’s like a nice monster that’s not scaring the kids.”

Williams said he had never carved pumpkins before, and no surgical tools were used to create his display.

He said he brought a reciprocating saw from home to do a knee replacement on one knee of his pumpkin patient and a femur fracture with a plate on it for the other.

Two training “sawbones” that can simulate bone fractures were put inside gourds with fake blood spread around to make it look like a knee surgery. His pumpkin was used for the head of the patient.

Stephanie Furlow, director of marketing and public relations for Schneck, said once other physicians had heard about Williams’ plan for the contest, the competition started heating up, and some vowed to up their game next year.

“I think next year, they’re going to have to bring it,” Williams said.

Dr. Ryan Sarver used his pumpkin carving to not only have fun but bring awareness to those with opioid use disorder. His pumpkin showed a face throwing up with pumpkin guts coming from its mouth with a dose of Narcan, an overdose reversal drug, sitting next to it.

A couple of displays with information about the opioid epidemic, ending the stigma and how to find help were placed next to the pumpkin.

“People are surprised to learn that their coworkers have opiate use disorder, that their family members have opiate use disorder,” Sarver said. “It’s everywhere. We need to get the word out there, and we’re just having fun with it.”

Sarver, the only medication-assisted treatment tech at Schneck, said he wanted to have fun carving pumpkins while also trying to end the stigma around those suffering from addictions.

“Some people have said, ‘Oh, did he eat too much fair food?’ Not quite,” Sarver said.

A total of $3,104 was raised from the contest, and proceeds go toward two Schneck Foundation scholarships: Allied Health Scholarship and Amanda M. Dick Honorary Scholarship.

The Allied Health Scholarship was started in 1992 and has awarded nearly $600,000. It is for candidates interested in pursuing a course of study in a technical or professional allied health career.

The Amanda M. Dick Honorary Scholarship was started in 2018 when her husband, Dr. Andrew Dick, gifted her the scholarship as a surprise birthday present. It is intended to support women pursuing a career in the medical field.