“One day, my son was a perfectly healthy 4-year-old boy. Five days later he was in the hospital getting his first brain surgery.”
RANDOLPH, NJ - There wasn’t a dry eye in the house on Tuesday Dec. 3 at the Zerris Inn, as current and past recipients of the MCYFL (Morris County Youth Football League) Charity told their emotional stories. The charity has assisted families in need for five years, and three more families facing life changing health issues were about to receive generous assistance.
The president of the MCYFL, Chuck Harvey (Hackettstown), began the evening by thanking Dave Barella (Hopatcong) who planned the banquet and Jerry Davis (Randolph), the league secretary and founder of the charity. Davis took the podium and described the success of the charity.
“To date, we have helped 11 families and distributed over $75,000.” He continued, “This year was the biggest yet with $25,000 raised; our goal for next year is over $30,000.” He offered special thanks for assistance from Modell’s, as well as the “Gold Out” program started by Brenda Ries of Parsippany Hills.
“Nothing in this world could ever prepare you for the emotional roller coaster of having a child with a brain tumor.” –Past recipient
Back in 2009, Davis, who has long coached in Randolph, heard about a player from another town in the league who was diagnosed with pediatric cancer. He approached the board of directors about taking up donations at all of the league games to help the family who was facing a sudden crisis. The collection was a success and an annual charity was born.
“The help and support from the community has been amazing. We felt blessed when you (MCYFL Charity) reached out to us, it is heartwarming to be a recipient and we cannot thank you enough.” –Past recipient
The past and present recipients who spoke offered sincere gratitude and thanks to the charity and the league board members. One by one they told stories of how their lives were instantly turned upside down upon receiving the news that their child was suffering from a life threatening illness.
“We faced an instant, shocking, and life altering crisis. People like you came from nowhere to help us. It’s fantastic.” – Past recipient
There was encouraging news shared about the progress of the children, as well as some inspirational and uplifting words from their parents about them. One parent stated “My child stares this thing down, fights it every day, and never complains.” Another parent commented “My son was just out of surgery, and he said to me ‘I hope I can play in the game this weekend, my team needs me.’”
Brenda Ries was so grateful, that she started her own cause named after her son called TEAMSean (www.teamsean.org) to raise funds and awareness. September is Pediatric Cancer awareness month, and she promoted the “Gold Out”, similar to Breast Cancer’s “Think Pink”. Throughout the league, players, cheerleaders, and fans were encouraged to buy and wear gold socks, laces, wristbands, shorts, and other items. Reis said “I was so grateful for the help I received I had to pay it forward.” She raised $13,000 through sales and donations. The games provided a platform for them to raise awareness and educate people about the cause.
Steve Peloso, Director of Referees for the league, also addressed the group, since one of this year’s recipients is a referee. He presented a special check to that recipient, comprised of donations he had received from other referee’s. Peloso said “I am involved in assigning referees for 12 leagues covering 120 towns in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and you guys should be proud because you are the only one I know of that has a charity.”
When Harvey took the podium back, he got a chuckle from the crowd when he said of Davis “You don’t want to mess with Jerry's football teams on the field, but we all know, what you ‘really’ don’t want to mess with is his charity.” He then took a moment to acknowledge Curtis Anderson ( JR. Knights ), who is in his 50th year of service to the league. He thanked Anderson and stated “Curtis is our treasurer, and he might be the nicest guy I know.” Trophies were then handed out to the league and division winners who were congratulated for their success.
Davis summed up the evening best at the end stating “Don’t get me wrong, these trophies and championships are great. They are fun for the players and their coaches, I know because I have a few.” He then pointed to the charity banner and continued “But this right here, people helping people, this is what really matters.”
Anyone wishing to help MCYFL Charities can make a donation:
Check made payable to MCYFL Charities, and sent to:
APSK / MCYFL
1250 Sussex TPK.
PO Box 88
Mt. Freedom, NJ 07970