High school honeys from more than 40 years ago found that their hearts still beat as one as they won the third annual Not-So-Newlywed Game in front of a raucous, record crowd.

Thursday’s event, a fundraiser for Columbus-based Turning Point Domestic Violence Services, drew 250 people to The Commons with total receipts of $40,048.

A year ago, the second event sold out a smaller, 200-seat venue and raised nearly $26,000. The inaugural event generated $20,000.

“Forty-two years together is worth a lot,” said a chuckling Charles Smith with wife Lorraine Smith after the spoof and title-twist of the classic TV game show.

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It served as one of the not-for-profit agency’s high-profile activities for October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The event, heavy with humor and free-flowing laughter, sparkled like a cherished wedding ring in its goal to highlight healthy relationships. It unabashedly showed five local married couples sometimes disagreeing, sometimes exchanging angry looks, sometimes looking absolutely befuddled, but mostly laughing with their spouse.

Near the end, it even featured the Smiths, both in their early 60s, spontaneously standing up to demonstrate “the bump” that was the answer to a question about one spouse’s “go-to dance move.”

Their exuberance, if not their skill on the 1970s maneuver, triggered screams, applause, laughter and, after they secured victory on a final question, a standing ovation.

“That’s a tough act to follow,” said emcee Mickey Kim, who took the stage to the 1982 pop dance tune, “Mickey.”

Kim’s dry wit kept the 90-minute event energetically moving along as he took playful digs at some of the contestants as they struggled with both questions and answers.

“Remember — being right is worth zero points,” Kim sarcastically reminded participants as they quibbled over what they considered correct and incorrect answers, regardless of whether they matched, which was the key to earning points.

Besides the Smiths, couples were Eric and Cindy Frey, Brian and Patty Hannasch, Shelley Knust and Teresa Voorhees, and Adam and Whittney Loyd. They each featured their own cheering sections, with some holding overhead oversized photos of the contestants. Others waved and banged skillets like a crazy kitchen band for their favorite duo.

The Hannasches generated their share of audience laughter without really trying to do so as they initially were slightly slow to find a harmony. When one of the questions asked spouses to identify what the couple considered “our song,” Patty Hannasch looked forlornly at her husband and pitifully proclaimed, “Well — you know only one song, and that’s ‘The Beverly Hillbillies.'”

Brian Hannasch then had to live up to his answer he gave and “Shake It Off” as he sadly tossed his answer card into the audience.

Kim told the audience earlier that Brian Hannasch “has retained (attorney) Tim Coriden for the night to wave off any inappropriate responses.” Coriden laughingly shook his head from the back of the venue.

Several of the contestants offered fairly quick answers, seemingly sure they were on the right track. Such was the case when Voorhees answered the question “My spouse has more (fill in the blank) than anyone I know.” Voorhees said of mate Knust that it had to be beer, but the assertion hopped to the wrong conclusion.

Others backspaced through years of memories to find answers. When contestants were asked to name their second date and what it entailed, a laughing-but-befuddled Eric Frey jokingly quipped, “I’m still trying to accurately remember our FIRST date” as the crowd offered a pained “ooooooooh.”

Mostly, the contestants, who almost all confessed beforehand to trepidation about embarrassing themselves in front of a couple hundred people, retained a lightheartedness that offered a peek into real relationship connections without getting too personal.

But some in the audience scarcely could imagine putting their marital moments on stage. When local resident Cathy King asked a friend in the audience if he and his wife would ever consider being contestants, the pal responded with mock shock.

“No way,” he said, stifling a laugh. “We value our marriage.”

Which, in essence, is part of the whole point of the Not-So-Newlywed Game.

Award winners

During a brief annual meeting Thursday, Turning Point Domestic Violence Services highlighted the following honors:

  • The Community Partner Award presented to the Haddad Foundation, in part for a $25,000 matching gift that allowed Turning Point to beautify the entrance at its local shelter.
  • The Mission Partner Award to Steve Henry of Steve’s Lock and Safe for his regular visits and work, often donated, on the agency’s security system.
  • The Kris Kindelsperger Volunteer of the Year Award, given to John R. Rhoades for a variety of outdoor efforts such as mowing and indoor efforts such as data entry and other office help.
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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.