By Steve Williams
The eighth annual Careacter Star Community Service Games had to be cancelled this year and that’s a shame.
Not enough coaches wanted to step up and bring their teams to the charitable event this season for one reason or another.
As of last Tuesday, only one team had committed to play. In many of the past seven events, as many as eight teams had played, with one game on Thursday night and three on Saturday.
As they have been for the past seven years, these Games were to be played for a good cause – to raise money for a family in our area who had a loved one going through a difficult time and in most cases a life or death situation.
One of its own in the East Tennessee football family would have been the beneficiary of this season’s Games, which would have been played Saturday at Grace Christian Academy.
Proceeds were to go to Campbell County High School Head Coach Justin Price and his family, whose eight month old son, Jack Price, was diagnosed with and is currently undergoing treatments for Leukemia at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
Money is still going to be raised for baby Jack’s medical bills, but in a different way. You and everyone will still have the opportunity to donate to this cause over the next month.
Dave Moore, who started the Community Service Games in 2012, didn’t throw in the towel. Saddened by the lack of response this year, Moore, who also heads up the CARE 365 and Careacter Star Athlete programs, immediately went into action to set up “Donation for the Price Family” and there is more information about that at the end of this column.
When word also gets out on TV, radio and other media outlets, I won’t be surprised to see even more money raised from the good people of East Tennessee, whether they are high school football fans or not.
But still, the Community Service Games have provided more good than just raising money the past seven years.
The TSSAA-sanctioned event has allowed for teams that didn’t make the playoffs to play one more game and get in another valuable week of practice, particularly for the younger players who will return next season.
But more than anything, it allowed the players to play for an honorable cause, to help someone in need, to go back home knowing they had made a difference.
It wasn’t the players who said ‘no’ to Coach Moore when he called inviting their team to play this year. They weren’t the ones who said ‘no’ we don’t want to play that team or on that day or it’s been a long season and we’re ready to pack it up.
The rejections were from coaches who just don’t get it.
Their response should have been: “Thanks for calling us Coach Moore and when do you need us there!”
Even though there is no score officially kept or put on the scoreboard in the Community Service Games, many officials in the area have worked them for free. Many volunteers over the years have looked forward to donating their time to sell admission tickets at the gate, work in concessions or do whatever needed to be done. It also made them feel good about contributing to a worthy cause.
Even parents of past beneficiaries no longer living have come back to donate their time in the memory of their lost child.
Moore has tried to make the games special for all involved.
Beneficiaries, who were able and healthy enough, have come out on the field to make the coin toss. They’ve been recognized by dignitaries on hand and heard the applause of the fans. It’s been their moment in the sun.
So many good things have come from the Community Service Games, and Moore has already said they will go on next year.
If you would like to donate to baby Jack and the Price family, checks are to be made payable to CARE 365 and must include on the check memo “Donation for the Price Family.” Donations will be accepted through Dec. 9.
Mail checks to: CARE 365, P.O. Box 32952, Knoxville, TN 37930.
(Care 365 is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization)