By Cassie Galasetti
The phrase is true, it takes a village. Sometimes it takes a village or community to rally together to make a difference in a cause and that’s what happened this past summer.
As recently reported in The Two River Times, Asbury Park Pop Warner league was in danger of shutting down as they were in need of equipment, uniforms and insurance fees to start the season. The football team of 33 players, ranging in ages from 8 to 11, and the cheerleading squad of 13 put forth their own fundraising efforts with bake sales and canning, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to fully sustain the program.
After reading the article about Asbury Park Pop Warner in the Aug. 16 edition of The Two River Times, a good Samaritan in the Two River area wanted to help. He contacted the Asbury Park Pop Warner president Teddy Wilson and arranged to stop by a practice to see the kids in action and get the story on how much they needed to raise to keep the season going. “They work hard and deserve a chance to be playing,” said the good Samaritan who wants to stay unnamed. “If they can’t raise the money, we will do our best to help.”
He called and texted a group of friends about the situation and they were more than willing to help. All of the anonymous donors had kids who played sports and knew how much it meant to them throughout the years.
With the help of their contributions, as well as other anonymous donations, they were able to create two football teams. “With all of the donations it kept us playing football this year and cheering,” said Wilson. “We had two football teams and are looking to keep the same kids and add to it as well. Hopefully next year we can have three teams!”
Wilson goes on to say, “We received about $12,000 in donations.” This gave the group enough funds to pay facilities fees, league insurance, national insurance, a cheer competition, cheering and football uniforms, plus gear, referee fees and more.
The anonymous Samaritan not only delivered the checks but went to cheer the teams on at the first away game in North Jersey and two home games where his wife made cookie bars for the team. He continues to give updates to his friends with videos from the sidelines and updates them on the team’s wins. Youth football has become one of the most popular sports for young kids because of its physical benefits but also for its encouragement in helping promote teamwork, leadership skills and teaching the players how to work well with others.
As Wilson said in the Aug. 16 article, it also helps benefit the kids by keeping them off the streets for two hours a day, 10 hours a week and a few months out of the year. He and the team coaches often act as role models and father figures on and off the field.
Both Asbury Park Pop Warner teams had phenomenal seasons. The Junior Pee Wees started off with three losses, but then rattled off five wins to make it to the first round of the playoffs where a little bad luck went against them and they lost. Meanwhile, the Mighty Mites team managed to go undefeated in the regular season, 8-0, and won the first round of playoffs.
“At season’s end, we are trying to raise money to have trophies and a little banquet for the kids as well,” said Wilson. “Send my thank you and nice regards to everyone.”
This article was first published in the Jan. 3-9 2019 print edition of The Two River Times.