VINCENT -Half a million dollars and still giving.
In conjunction with the Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis fundraising events such as Friday night's All-Star Classic at Warren High School, the BACF committee has topped the $500,000 mark in the amount raised in the past 17 years when the charity football game first began.
"We're glad we're at that point, but at the same time the object is to find a cure," said Danny Tennant, who serves as the director of football operations for the BACF. "The more we give, the better chance we have at finding a cure."
Photo by Michael Uhl
West Virginia BACF head coach Jason Hickman cheers on his squad during the 17th annual benefit game.
The committee has tweaked a few things over the years with their football event, as well as the BACF All-Star Basketball Game in the spring and basket bingo in the fall.
"Our philosophy is if we find a good thing, stick with it and make it stronger," said Kay Grose, who serves as the president on the BACF board of directors. "With these three events, we're just trying to make them grow each year. We would rather do three events with solid excellence than do a lot of events and not be able to pull them off."
One of the loudest ovations of the evening occurred at halftime when the Gymniks Gymnastics outfit from Vienna performed in front of the fans sitting on the home side of the field. Emily Combs, an 11-year-old from Tuppers Plains, Ohio, who has cystic fibrosis, gave a solo effort on the balance beam.
"Her mother told me they have never told Emily she can't do something," said Gymniks coach Connie Barnes.
Through the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Combs attended a camp in Tennessee and the family was able to purchase their own equipment, including a trampoline, balance beam, and mats.
Combs doesn't let the disease interfere with her training. Her weekly routine ranges from 16 to 20 hours in the gym since she first joined the club three years ago.
"They say when Emily goes on her monthly visits for breathing, her lungs are as strong as the average kid her age because of gymnastics," said Gymniks coach Nikki Thompson.
Making a guest appearance last night was 19-year-old Travis Flores of Newport, who also has cystic fibrosis and has played an integral role speaking to BACF crowds.
Flores brought his girlfriend Chelsea Gentile to the stadium. Both are students at Marymount Manhattan College in New York and have initiated the 'Cure Crew' at their school which raises money for the CF Foundation.
"I've never really had a girlfriend at a BACF game with me, so it's kind of cool to let her see how many people support the cause," Flores said.
Warren defensive back Erik Mason, who will be attending Kent State in the fall, played his final football game by earning MVP honors for the Ohio squad.
On the flip side, Stephen Roush of Parkersburg represented the West Virginia unit. Roush caught nine passes for 144 yards and scored one touchdown, which put his team in front 21-0 at the 8:52 mark of the second quarter.
Roush will continue his playing career next season at Mount Union College and major in pre-dentistry.
"This was just a great team effort," Roush said. "Working with these guys and the coaches, it was just a great experience."