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Ask the REALTOR® Games organizer about the Giant Dipper

posted Jun 16, 2017, 4:15 PM by Joyce Evans   [ updated Jun 16, 2017, 4:18 PM ]
You may know PSAR REALTOR® member Robert Cromer as a member of PSAR’s South County Charity Committee and organizer of PSAR’s inaugural PSAR REALTOR® Games, to be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., this Friday, June 23, at Scobee Park, 2390 Boswell Road in Chula Vista’s EastLake community. Robert hopes the event will draw 300 people and raise $10,000 for three charities, including Unity 4 Orphans, South Bay Community Services, and HomeAid San Diego. The REALTOR® Games will feature several teams of PSAR members competing in mental and physical challenges. The competition will include such agility activities as sack race, free-throw contest, balloon catch and cornhole, as well as mental games, including spelling bee, board puzzle and Realtor Feud, a game resembling TV’s “Family Feud.” Another competition will consist of “Jenga,” a game of skill featuring players taking turns removing one wooden block at a time from a tower constructed of several dozen blocks (the name Jenga is derived from a Swahili word meaning “build”). Entry fee is $250 per team. Contestants will receive a 2017 REALTOR® Games t-shirt featuring sponsor names. Spectator admission is $20 per person, which includes a taco plate, beverage and raffle ticket. For more event information, call PSAR at (619) 421-7811, or visit www.psar.org/realtorgames.
 
Robert also has served on the PSAR board of directors since 2015 and served as chair of the South County District Council (2015). The District Council addresses South County local issues and promotes member engagement in fundraising and charitable community service projects. PSAR’s South County Charity Committee, which Robert founded in 2015, has been responsible for organizing not only for the REALTOR® Games but also two other fundraising events. They include the annual “Zombie 5K Run-Walk,” held in October at Rohr Park in Bonita. Participants wear costumes at the fundraiser that last year benefited AJ’s Kids’ annual holiday toy drive for Rady Children’s Hospital (organized by radio personality A.J. Machado of KEGY-FM Energy 103.7) and South Bay Community Services; and, PSAR’s annual “Casino Night at Viejas,” a bus trip to Viejas Casino in Alpine that includes raffle tickets and discounts on the dinner buffet at the casino and Viejas Outlet Center stores.
 
But did you know that Robert rode the Giant Dipper roller coaster at the Belmont Park amusement park for 70 straight days with four other people? It happened 16 years ago and Robert still has aches and pains as a result.
 
During his 10 straight weeks of riding on the historic wooden roller coaster, Robert marked his 30th birthday. He also celebrated his one-year wedding anniversary and signed the papers for his and wife Yvonne’s first-ever home purchase. His sales agent at the time was current PSAR member Pat Russiano.
 
It was the summer of 1998, and radio station KFMB 100.7-FM organized its second roller coaster riding marathon contest. The year before the winner was declared after 11 days. So, Robert, working at the time as a manager at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott in Dana Point, took two weeks of vacation. The prize was $50,000 to whoever could endure riding the roller coaster the longest. Disc jockeys Jeff and Jer called the endurance event “Whirl ‘til You Hurl.”
 
“I wanted to open my own business. And, I thought I could outlast the 23 other contestants and be the last man standing,” said Robert. “Besides, I’ve always been a bit of a risk taker.”
 
Indeed. For example, growing up in Indianapolis, at age 9, Robert delivered newspapers using his older sister’s name because he was too young to be given the job on his own. Also, on his last day as a senior in high school, Robert and a friend wore panty hose over their faces to hide their identity and walked into a crowded cafeteria during lunch hour. Then, they dumped two painting buckets full of canned vegetables on the floor and ran into the nearby woods ahead of the school track coach who was in hot pursuit. “Nope, we never got caught,” Robert said.
 
Also, right after his introduction to Yvonne at a Christmas party, in order to impress her, Robert stole from a hotel lobby a three-foot high reindeer Christmas decoration. “Yvonne said that it looked cute and I wanted to quickly make some points,” said Robert. “The reindeer later ended up in somebody’s front yard.”
 
So, in 1998, the idea of winning a contest riding a roller coaster the longest sounded easy to Robert. Starting on June 30 and not ending until Labor Day, the contestants were collectively cranked up to a 73-foot-high point and yanked over 12 twists and turns -- traveling as fast as 55 miles per hour -- for 14-and-a-half hours a day. They slept overnight in a roller coaster car, which counted for eight hours, and were allowed two half-hour breaks and three 10-minute breaks daily.
 
In the end, radio station management stopped the dizzying ride over health concerns, Robert said. “We were aware that the radio station could make us spilt the $50,000,” he said. “However, they upped the ante a bit and each of us received $12,500, plus a trip to Hawaii. Fortunately, my employer was very understanding, and I kept my job. Financially, the roller coaster experience was not a smart move, but buying the house was.”
 
Robert and Yvonne leveraged the equity in their first house to buy a second house, and then did the same to buy a third house, and so on. In 2002, they got their real estate sales license and Robert began working as a full-time sales agent and Yvonne worked as a loan officer. By the end of 2006, they had a portfolio of 17 homes in six states, including Texas, Utah, Florida, Indiana, Nevada and California. The same year, Robert opened his own real estate company staffed with 12 agents.
 
“Then the market crashed and we lost everything,” said Robert. “We lost the business, we lost the homes. It was a tough three or four years until 2010,” when both Robert and Yvonne joined McMillin Realty. “We’ve had several good years with McMillin.” Robert and Yvonne are now with Coldwell Banker West, following Coldwell Banker West’s recent acquisition of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate McMillin Realty. Coldwell Banker West is now the largest Coldwell Banker franchise in California and fastest-growing Coldwell Banker office in the nation, the company said.
 
Robert and Yvonne, who reside in Eastlake, are raising two girls. Haley, 19, is attending the University of California Davis. Haley is majoring in Spanish and global studies. Her goal is to become a professor for a prestigious college and teach the language and culture that is true to her heart. Haley is on pace to finish her undergraduate work in three years and graduate in June 2018. Hannah, 16, also is an excellent student. Hannah’s plays club soccer for the Rebels at the Elite level. Her team just won the National Cup and the California Regional League. The team is currently ranked 29th nationally and second in Southern California in the Girls Age 16-and-under division.
 
Robert is proud to be active in PSAR. “We have a terrific association that provides excellent service to the members,” he said. “I’m living proof that good things happen when you get involved with PSAR. Besides, it can be just as much fun, plus safer, than riding on a roller coaster for two months.”