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Ball-Searchers Gone Wild

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As soon as the balls had been concealed, determined scavengers deluged the hiding places, which had been listed on the foundation's Web site.

A Virginia Commonwealth University medical student, at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, claimed the first, and biggest prize, a crystal horse statuette from Schwarzchild Jewelers with an estimated value of $3,000. A woman who lived in the Elmira Shelton House missed the ball hidden there but managed to find two others.

By noon on Friday, seven balls have been found, and Taylor is as breathless as though she's just won a polo match. She's already planning to repeat the event next year, she says, with more sites and prizes.

Yet Taylor's afraid no one will find the final few she's hidden. "Maybe I should tell you," she says, "so somebody will go get it."

Just then, a young man walks into HRF's offices. "You got the last two?" Taylor asks. "Did you find the one in the drainpipe?"

He has it in hand, actually. "Good timing, huh?" says Greg Van, a biochemist at VCU's Medical College of Virginia Hospitals and a Tobacco Row resident. He found one ball Thursday in a drainpipe at the Elmira Shelton House — "Lo and behold, there it was," he says — and another across from St. John's Church. Van says he heard about the contest when he "was just out for a walk." He wins a membership in the Quoit Club (Historic Richmond's social club), a book about Church Hill and tickets to the polo match.

Two balls remain, but they may be lost to history, Taylor says. Both hidden in the canal area, they were marked with identical numbers "because we thought they were hard to find," Taylor says. So if you see an orange-sized ball floating in the murky channel, Taylor says, grab it. She won't say what you might win. — M.S.S.

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