SUMMIT, NJ - Family, friends and alumni gathered Friday, Nov. 23 for the 11th annual Summit Hilltoppers
Turkey Bowl at Tatlock Field in Summit.
About 30 players separated into four teams, and two games at a time, played in a football battle to raise money for the Red Cross that would ultimately be donated to Hurricane Sandy relief.
“It’s all about camaraderie,” said Patrick Natale, a Hilltopper from ’88 and organizer of the Turkey Bowl. “It's about getting together and raising money.”
Two Red Cross representatives set up a table with a canister for people to make donations and the Turkey Bowl this year raised over $400.
Natale sold t-shirts for the event but he said that people were also doing their part.
“People were just generous,” he said, “winning and losing was not most important, it was raising money for the charity.”
Natale was thrilled that people could get together to continue the tradition. Alumni of Summit sports played in the Turkey Bowl.
A short time ago, Natale knew of a man from Summit that had special needs, and was a huge Summit sports fan. This friend of his met the love of his life, got married and went on his honeymoon. Shortly after they returned, his wife passed away. This is where the idea of raising money for a charity began.
Some of the first funds that were raised went to Our House in New Providence, a home for special needs/mentally challenged adults.
“We should do more than just get together and play football,” said Natale, “Every year we chose a different charitable cause.”
A big supporter of the Turkey Bowl is Head Football Coach of Summit High School, John Liberato. He spoke to alumni and expressed his pride, and the tradition of Summit football.
Alumni involved in the Turkey Bowl range from 1981-2010.
Natale always says, “Focus on the task at hand,” and “Bring your A game,” and that is exactly what the Hilltoppers did.
Toiletries, canned fruit, and other non-perishable items were collected for donation to those still in need from Sandy at the Turkey Bowl as well.
The football festivities were not the only charitable actions by Summit athletes. Ten players from the team made a trip to Staten Island to assist Sandy victims earlier this month.