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Medallion finders to donate $500 prize to church youth group

Kayla Norstad, left, and her mother Jen Shonkwiler, center, found the Edina Realty Rivertown Days medallion this year. Pictured with them is Sandy Becker from Edina Realty in Hastings. Star Gazette photo by Jane Lightbourn

For Jen Shonkwiler and her family of Hastings, the annual Edina Realty medallion has been the highlight to Rivertown Days for many years. Hunting for it has been a challenge.

This year, the hunt was a successful one when Jen and her daughter Kayla found the medallion along the trail near Hastings Middle School.

What to do with the $500 cash prize generated a quick response.

“We're paying it forward,” she said. “We're donating it.”

The cash will be donated to the youth ministry at the Hastings United Methodist Church. It was an easy decision, according to Shonkwiler.

“I have been the recipient of many donations,” she said. “It is just natural to do it.”

The search for the medallion has been an annual activity for the Shonkwiler family.

“Actually, it is the thing we most look forward to each year,” Jen said.

It was the same routine this year. Usually, the family waited until after the first clue, which provides some general hunt rules, before going each day to the Edina Realty office to get their copy.

When the hunt reached Thursday, the fourth day, and still no medallion was found, a second clue for the day was released at 3 p.m. Shonkwiler was one of the many people who showed up.

“It was just crazy,” Jen said, describing the scene in the parking lot. She waited until most had left the office and the lot before going inside.

Then she went home, waited for her daughter to come home from work and then decided where they were going. She contacted her husband Brad before going hunting.

“With that last clue I was thinking either middle school or high school,” said Shonkwiler. The clue talked about buses and students.

Brad suggested going to the middle school. Jen and Kayla took his suggestion and went there. Many other people had the same idea. Jen estimated about 40 people were walking around the area.

“My first thought was of the track at the south end,” said Shonkwiler. The fenced-in area was closed for construction, so Jen began walking along the fence line. Kayla was walking nearby, searching the area.

She had walked almost the full length and found nothing. There was another 10 feet to go. She had to be thorough and continued on, she said.

There were bushes and a log. She pulled the log back and there was the medallion hidden in plastic.

“I looked at her and she knew I had it,” said Jen.

“The look on her face said it,” said Kayla.

Jen placed the medallion on the ground, took a photo and sent it to her husband to let him know she found it.

Then, without saying a word, the two went back to the car and drove to the Edina Realty office.

“We were giggling all the way,” said Kayla.

While they probably will go hunting again next year, it will be for fun and they will not seek the prize. That should go to someone else, they say.

Edina Realty has sponsored the medallion hunt for years.

“It is a fun time for all of us,” said office manager Sandy Becker.