A year ago, I wrote the following blog after attending a fundraiser basketball game at Mt. Everett High School. The game, however, was not the real story here. I hope you’ll find it worthwhile.
Kenny Krom and Debbie Connors never met, yet their fates brought them together in the most profound way.
A little over a year ago, 19 year old Kenny Krom, a graduate of Mt. Everett High School in Sheffield, Massachusetts, was killed in a one-car crash. He would have started college last fall to pursue a nursing degree. Kenny was a basketball player, well known and well loved, and the community mourned his loss.
But there was a silver lining in this tragedy – Kenny Krom was an organ donor.
Debbie Connors, age 50, from Palmer Massachusetts, had spent the last three years on the organ donor waiting list to receive a new kidney. She suffered from polycystic kidney disease which had taken her father, three aunts and two cousins.
For those same three years, Debbie had been surviving on three-day-a-week dialysis, but she was weakening – she desperately needed a new kidney. And then, on Good Friday , 2017, Kenny gave Debbie one of his.
Others benefited as well- 15 people’s lives have been saved or enhanced by Kenny’s gifts so far. Over 67 remaining units of Kenny’s bone marrow can help many more over the next few years.
But the goodness didn’t stop there. Kenny’s mother Sue Krom started a scholarship in his memory, and this past Saturday, an alumni basketball game was held at Mt Everett to help raise money for it- $5 a head at the door.
There were hot dogs and baked goods and T shirts for sale. Proceeds from those went to the school’s booster club to help the sports programs. And the non-profit Donate Life offered information about becoming an organ donor.
What a rich tally of benefit from Kenny’s life- 15 lives saved or enhanced with more to come and three non-profits supported. I trust we’ll be seeing future sports-related fundraisers bearing Kenny’s name in sportingAcause.
Oh, and sitting in the front row watching the game with Kenny’s mom and grandmother was a healthy, smiling Debbie Connors.
April 2019 Update:
Since this blog, a total of 40 people have now been helped or saved thanks to Kenny Krom.
On Saturday, May 18th, the 2nd Annual Alumni Basketball Game will be held at the Mt Everett High School gym to support the Kenny Krom Scholarship Fund, Mt Everett Booster Club and Donate Life. Details here at sportingAcause.com.
Looking for something fun to do on a May Saturday? Then consider this exciting event coming May 11th to a theater near you – the Tri-State Amazing Race.
This is a new event organized by Erin Fowler and inspired by the popular television show Amazing Race. The goal is to raise money to fight substance abuse in our area.
Here’s how it works- two-person teams with a car all gather at the Colonial Theater (that’s the “at a theater near you” part) in Canaan, CT. Each team is given a clue to guide them to the first destination where they are given a task to perform and a clue to the next destination.
After many destinations the winning team will receive $1,000! But sign up quickly because registration closes April 20th.
For more information click here: http://sportingacause.com/event/tri-state-amazing-race/
But the Amazing Race is not the only event coming up. The sports-related fundraising season is really heating up! Over the next 30 days you’ll have the opportunity to watch or take part in a motorcycle rally to Lime Rock Park, a basketball game, Kentucky Derby party, softball tournament, a lumberjack – style olympics and over 24 running or walking events! Plus the golf tournament season has started.
Find them all here at sportingAcause.com.
Til next time.
Calendars. They enhance our lives or rule them, depending. Either way calendars help us avoid personal chaos by giving order to our upcoming lives.
SportingAcause.com has calendars to alert readers about their favorite sports-related fundraisers or to inform them of events they were not aware of.
But there is another purpose calendars can serve that I have hoped folks would embrace – to use sportingAcause calendars to plan events.
Here’s an example. This year organizers changed the date of their event to April 27th. Had they checked the sportingAcause calendar, they would have seen four other run/walk events like theirs already scheduled for that day.
On another date, May 4th, there were six scheduled events. Now there are seven after an event changed last year’s date. A quick review of scheduled events would have shown an already saturated date. Of course, because some of the events are strewn about the Tri-State sportingAcause area, not all of them compete with one another for participants, but some do.
And I know there are many factors that go into choosing an event date- facility and volunteer availability, seasonal considerations, etc. And there are only so many weekends to choose from which makes it all the more important to choose the most sparsely populated day for your event.
Let’s face it. there are many, many non profits out there offering many, many fundraisers seeking to tap into a finite participant and donor pool. It only makes sense to spread those events out as much as possible to have the best shot at success.
Til next time
The Spring Splash this Sunday at the Grove at Lakeville Lake marks the final “cold water” fundraiser of the season on the sportingAcause calendar.
Zany folks jump into frigid waters all over the world for many reasons- rites of passage, ushering in spring, health benefits, celebrations and more. But it is a peculiarly American notion to discomfort oneself for charity.
And two very worthy ones will benefit from the Spring Splash. The popular Jane Lloyd Fund, which provides living expenses to cancer-stricken folks living in CT’s Region One, will split the proceeds with the lesser-known HVRHS FFA Alumni John Rice Scholarship Fund. Both do great work in the Northwest Corner.
A sidebar story to the Spring Splash is the number of young people who participate. Buses from Berkshire, Salisbury and Hotchkiss Schools arrive to join ranks with HVRHS students as well as grade-schoolers. Of the 150 people who typically take part in the Splash, half are high school age.
They have learned the value of giving back to their communities, and their enthusiasm and energy as they take the plunge is a joy to watch.
By the way, you don’t have to get wet to support the causes. Although the cost to Splash is $25, you can just show up and watch and make a donation of any size. The entertainment will be worth it!
Til next time
I sense a trend.
Last spring, Camphill Village, a residential facility serving adults with developmental challenges in Copake, New York, hosted a 5k run on their campus. Since many of the residents’ families live great distances away from Camphill, the 5k included a “run where you are” option. This allowed family members to take part in the event almost as if they were there- they paid their entry fee, received a T shirt and ran their 5K wherever in the world they happened to be. They felt included.
This summer the Alzheimer’s Association will host The Longest Day on June 21st, a day that not only is the literal longest day of the year, but also demonstrates that every day is the longest day for Alzheimer’s sufferers and their caregivers. This will be an entirely virtual event.
Participants will solicit donations as they do for the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s, but now they will perform whatever they want to do, wherever they are, and whenever they feel like it. Registrants can run down their own street, play a round of golf on their home course or even invite friends over for a barbecue to raise money for the cause.
As many people now work from home, now folks can fundraise and do their thing from their own surroundings.
I like that notion.
Of course gatherings will always have their place- there is energy in numbers and good things happen whenever kind-hearted people come together. But as an alternative to traveling a distance to a fundraiser, the practice of helping your cause from home I believe will surely grow.
And on June 21st?
I’ll be Mowing my Lawn to End Alzheimer’s.
Til next Time
Recent news about rich parents gaming the system to get their offspring into the “right” colleges has spawned conversations about the state of things in America.
I, of course, have my two cents to add to the discussion, especially where sports are concerned.
Sports were one of the avenues to acceptance that the offenders employed to get their over-privileged darlings into elite schools- doctoring photos , generating fictitious resumes and bribing coaches. As if collegiate sports were not tainted enough already.
Which led me to ponder, is there any purity left in sports at all?
Money and politics run college sports- that we know. And even at the secondary level, for every high school athlete who shows even a modicum of promise, there is a parent- advocate pushing to position their child for a college scholarship.
And, sadly, even youngsters can’t play a stress free game without “encouragement” from the stands. At my home town Little League field, years ago officials moved the bleachers from behind home plate out to center field where shouted criticisms from parents were less disruptive.
So, is there any place where a game can be played simply for the joy of it?
I suggest that there is.
Special Olympics creates opportunities for athletes with intellectual disabilities. There are 12,000 in Connecticut alone competing year round in 28 different sports. They train to win, of course, but their focus is to do the best they can and enjoy the process. And part of Special Olympics is Unified Sports which partners Special Olympians with elementary, middle and high school students to train and play together in friendly competition.
And here’s another area where sports are played for the best of reasons. When and wherever everyday folks gather to play for someone else’s benefit. To me that is sport at its most noble, and the pages of sportingAcause.com are full of them.
They abandoned all of their comfort and a bit of their dignity last Saturday when they jumped into cold water for a great cause. They were the intrepid souls who raised money for Special Olympics Connecticut at the Winsted Penguin Plunge at Highland Lake.
The event is billed as the largest grass roots fundraiser in the state for Special Olympics CT, and they proved it Saturday. The group raised nearly $80,000 for the charity which provides year round training and competitions for 12,000 Connecticut athletes with intellectual disabilities as well as Unified Sports which partners SO athletes with teammates without intellectual disabilities.
Now the real story at the Winsted Penguin Plunge was the number of young people involved. Groups from Torrington and Pomperaug High Schools as well as the elementary schools of Region 7, and the Boy Scouts from Troop 23 in Torrington plunged in full uniform.
All in all, kids made up over 25% of the total participants at the Plunge. And that’s not counting the hundreds, if not thousands of high schoolers who serve as partners in the Unified Sports program
I’ve written before about the significant role that our young people play in local charities , and I’ll surely be reporting about it again. Our young people don’t get enough credit for all they do.
Til next time
Bob Frink passed way in the middle of February. I had only met him once, and from that moment wished that I had known him longer. I met him at the Canaan Country Club last August where he was hosting the 3rd Annual Ice Bucket Open Golf Tournament to raise money for the ALS Association, Connecticut Chapter which provides equipment, transportation, and general support to ALS patients and their families.
Bob sat in a motorized wheelchair. He could no longer speak, but he could smile, and I think smiling is about the bravest thing you can do when you have ALS.
ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or, more commonly, Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder which means it robs the sufferer of muscular control starting with mobility and manual dexterity and eventually speech and the ability to breath. There is no cure, and it is always fatal. It stole those things from Bob, but it couldn’t rob his spirit, or the spirit of his wife Jeanine and their family. Much is asked of a family when a member has ALS.
Bob had served as greenskeeper at CCC for 27 years, so a golf tournament at the Club was a natural for a fundraiser. Well known and well loved, Bob’s friends organized the Open to raise money to help him out, but Bob decided the proceeds would go to ALS Association CT, the organization that has helped him and his family.
The tournament has raised over $70,000 for ALS research over its three year run. This year the Ice Bucket Open will be held August 10th in Bob’s honor.
When was the last time you attended a high school sports game at your alma mater? If it has been a while, you may be pleasantly surprised to see folks you know in the stands and names you recognize on the court or field.
Those athletes with familiar names are likely the children or grand children of the people you went to high school with, and your bleacher mates are likely either your classmates or their offspring.
If you live in Region One here in Northwestern Connecticut, you have another good reason to catch a game. Tonight at Housatonic Valley Regional High School (Housy) the girls varsity basketball team begins its class S state tournament run against Ellis Tech.
The girls have had a season for the ages- they won the Berkshire League title as well as the BL tournament, ending their season 22-1, undefeated in league play. The last time that happened, the seniors on this team weren’t even born yet. Housy is among the smallest of the small schools in the BL yet they knocked off Northwestern and Lewis Mills- both Class M schools.
Cheering crowds mean a lot to these kids, so why not take a ride over to HVRHS this evening and support them on their quest for a state title. Their enthusiasm is contagious.
Game time is 6:00 pm.
Til next time