This year, the Turkey Bowl is dedicated to six people in need. Here are their stories and the teams playing on their behalf:
- Team Brittany Parker: Brittany Parker, of Wadsworth, is a single mom who was diagnosed with stage 3 invasive breast cancer on July 9. Currently, she is finishing 16 weeks of chemotherapy and will need a double mastectomy and several reconstructive procedures. Chad Toocheck is playing on her behalf on team captain Dan Bowman’s team.
- Team Stillman: Jack Stillman, 23, of Rocky River, died in January after a bout of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that followed a stellar career in the Army. Team captain Frank Warren will play on his behalf.
- Collin’s Crew: Collin Nemet, a 9-year-old boy from Brunswick, was an active kid that enrolled in the American Ninja Warrior School in Brunswick. Soon thereafter, he was in Cleveland Clinic after being diagnosed with brain cancer. Parents Mike and Kim have five children and Collin continues his battle. Darren Cereshko is playing for Collin on captain Austin Cordova’s team.
- Team Paul Desciscio: Paul Desciscio, of Medina, is suffering from colon cancer. Doctors have already removed a tumor the size of a rugby football because of the disease. It also forced surgeons to remove his colon, bladder and prostate, which changed his life forever. The cancer later spread to his liver and he continues to fight. Dan Icenhour is playing on Desciscio’s behalf on captain Jon Levoy’s team.
- Team Ooh La La: Captain Kyle Smith’s team is playing for a lady who wishes to remain anonymous. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer about five years ago. The cancer has since come back. She has lost her brother and mother to cancer. Smith is playing on her behalf.
- Team Haney: John Haney, a former football player at Baldwin Wallace University, died unexpectedly last year after suffering from mental health issues. Ian Harmon is raising 100 percent of his proceeds for a foundation set up in Haney’s name on captain Matt Meadows’ team. Harmon, from Fairview Park, was Haney’s best friend.
MEDINA — A change in this year’s funding format for the annual Meadows Turkey Bowl will result in half of the proceeds from the charitable football game going into the hands of Medina County families in need.
Most of the families chosen either have loved ones that are currently battling different forms of cancer or have died of the disease. It’s enough to make teams of amateur athletes happily want to don jerseys and grab the pigskin early on Thanksgiving Day.
Organizer Mike Meadows said he doesn’t know if this year’s game, which will be at 8 a.m. at Bill Dunn Field at Reagan Park, can top last year’s money total. The donations garnered in the weeks leading up to the event are the game within the game.
“It’s not how much money we raise, but how many people we help,” Meadows said Wednesday. “I don’t know if we can top that. These are volunteers trying to help people. We are inspired by who we help.”
The Grace Foundation is also working in conjunction with the charitable event.
In the first 28 years of the Turkey Bowl, participants have raised $1,548,000.
Last year, Meadows said players raised $263,000 — all of which was donated to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which helps people in need.
Meadows said he is blown away by the money raised.
“I can’t even put that into words,” he said. “It’s staggering. Glory be to God.”
Meadows, who lives in Hinckley Township, pays for and provides all the food, drink and jerseys for the game. The 52-year-old man described the game as “testosterone meets charity.”
“It’s a backyard football game to raise money,” he said. “There is a level of competitiveness to see how many people we can touch.”
The game has been moved from Meadows’ home to Dunn Field largely the game has gotten too big for his backyard.
The Turkey Bowl is dedicated to the six people with six teams competing for the championship. Players on the teams will wear names on the back of their jerseys honoring the game’s beneficiaries.
Fifty players, each raising a minimum of $2,000, will be competing in the Turkey Bowl. One player on each teams will donate
100 percent of what they raise to one family.
Mike Meadows said many of the older players through the years are no longer playing and this year’s game will have just six veterans including him on the roster.
“We’re getting old,” he said. “We’re handing the baton off to the younger guys (like his sons Pete, Matt and Michael). This next generation is buying into the charitable component of the game within the game.”
Frank Warren, a team captain, said he told his players the game “is bigger than you.”
“The wonderful thing about giving is, in doing so, you truly feed your spirit,” he said.
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