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From the Bench: More than 6,000 Reasons Tribe's Cheer and Football Teams became Champs Thursday

By Jeff Toquinto on November 19, 2017 from Sports Blog via Connect-Bridgeport.com

More than a dozen Bridgeport High School student athletes were at West Virginia University Medicine Children’s Hospital Thursday in Morgantown. There’s no need to be alarmed as the senior members of the Indians’ football team and the entire cheerleading squad that were in attendance were not ill.
 
The presence of the youngsters in Morgantown was for a much more noble reason. It’s something that assured that no matter what happened this year on the competition front, both groups walked away as winners.
 
For the third year, the Indians made the northern trek to WVU Medicine Children’s to make a donation to the Lacy Neff Q for Kids Radiothon. The event, named after the long-time WVAQ radio personality who passed away in June of 2016 who got the program started, raises funds to support the medical efforts at the facility.
 
This year, the “Voice of the Indians’ Travis Jones, whose role with Indians athletics goes well beyond the broadcast booth for those who may not be aware, got with the BHS football and cheer coaching staffs to let them know of an idea to hopefully provide an even bigger benefit to the event. And it did just that.
 
“The programs collected money the past two years simply by passing a bucket at a Bridgeport Middle School and Bridgeport High School football game and we did  around $2,000 each of those years,” said Jones. “Considering how we did it, that wasn’t too bad. This year, the thought was that we could get more people involved who might not be at those particular games.”
 
From there, the idea for TDs for Tots was born. The concept was simple. Cheerleaders and football players would canvass the community and seek individuals who would be pledge an amount for each touchdown that was scored this year to go to the children’s hospital. Although they didn’t turn down one-time donations, the goal was to get the pledges and hope for a lot of touchdowns.
 
Those involved got both.
 
“We managed to get pledges that resulted in $136 every time we scored a touchdown. Once we had the pledges, it was up to the team to score a lot of touchdowns,” said Jones.
 
They did just that. During the 10-game regular season, which is the time the pledges count, the Indians scored enough touchdowns to raise $6,321 and some change that was donated Thursday.
 
Coach Adam King from the football squad was joined by Cheer Coach Natalie Hathaway to make the presentation to the radiothon. Along the way, some of the kids involved got to go on the air to talk about the program.
 
“I was really pleased with how it shook out because I think this can go higher in the next couple years because the community knows what to expect and knows about the program,” said Jones. “It’s definitely something we want to continue.”
 
Jones revealed even more good news about the Indians’ and their “TD for Tots” program.
 
“We’ve been approached by (WVU Medicine Children’s) about rolling the program out to other schools in the area and across the state,” said Jones. “That’s terrific that might happen because we see value in getting the kids involved even beyond raising the money.”
 
Perhaps that’s the most important thing that happened Thursday. The students got to see what their efforts did and who it impacted by being in the very facility where the funds raised go and where the children and their families impacted are actually at doing the donation.
 
“Bridgeport’s student athletes do a lot of community service projects and this certainly falls in line with that. What’s key is that you see from talking to the kids after this they realize football, cheering and sports are fun, but this is so much more important,” said Jones. “They get a chance to soak in the reality that, every day, there are sick kids – some very sick – in Morgantown and because it’s a non-profit facility they need funding. I hope they realize, and think they do, this is so much bigger than anything they can accomplish on the football field.”
 
Jones couldn’t be more right. Bridgeport’s football team and cheerleading squad didn’t have any formal ceremonies, but they all walked away from the hospital Thursday doing more than representing themselves, their school and community in excellent fashion. They walked away as champions.
 
Editor’s Note: Jones is letting those who pledged know invoices have been sent out and due to there being so many the invoices are going out in waves. For those that haven’t received one, it should be coming soon. For those that don’t get one, email Jones at indiansfootball@hotmail.com. In the photos, top picture shows coaches, players and cheerleaders with the check they presented. Second photo shows Coach Adam King with John Merica as he gets interviewed on the radio, while Koby Kiefer gets his turn below. The TD fot Tots logo is also shown, while the picture below, courtesy of Dan Shrensky, shows the group leaving for their trip home.


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