By Avra Sullivan
You have to pay to play. As adults we understand this concept to mean the hard work we must put in order to acquire the things we want to have or do. But in the age of budget cuts, and economical shoe-stringing, this can take a very literal sense for many high school kids in our area who want to participate in sports or after school activities. Unbeknownst to many, for a high school student to play a sport it costs $100 per student, per sport. A little math can show how a family with two kids and two or more sports per year can incur a hefty bill.
The Richard Downey Foundation is a new, non-profit organization that is trying to help curve the cost of high school athletics by providing the financial resources needed for kids to play. Started in honor of Richard Downey who passed away last August, the group of “ just a few guys who were involved and influenced” by sports, is already beginning to make a difference. “You really get your first taste of being an adult, on the sports field,” says Chris Downey, founder and brother of Richard. “You learn so much about team work, hardship, and perseverance. These are skills that can also be taken into the workplace.” The RDF’s first event last April was a huge success, bringing over 200 people and raising $3,200 dollars. That may seem like just a number, but when dissected, is a huge impact. The money was split evenly between Kent Island High and Queen Anne’s County High Schools, and then split evenly between male and female athletes. Bottom line, this fall 32 students in these two schools will be able to participate in a sport or after school activity, when they may not have been able to before. “Richard was such a charismatic person,” says his brother Chris. “He could walk into a bar, where he knew all but one guy. By the end of that night, he’s that guy’s best friend.” While still in the early stages of development, the RDF is receiving great support from the board of education, the athletic departments, coaches and the community. “So many people want to do so much”, says Chris. “It has been very positive, and something Richard would be proud of.”
The RDF is planning its first annual Crab Feast Fundraiser, set for September 8th from 1-6pm. Being held at the Kent Island Yacht Club there will be all you can eat crabs, all you can drink beer and wine, a silent auction, door prizes, lots of BBQ style food, 50/50 raffle and great music by popular band Johnny Bling. Donations for the silent auction are being accepted and business can contact them about sponsorship opportunities. For ticket information you can call 1-855-ROCK-RDF or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out their Facebook page under the Richard Downey Foundation. The proceeds go directly to provide funding for kids to be able to play sports, while learning the lessons only a football huddle can teach.
In photo from left to right: John Downey – Richard’s Father, Faye Downey – Richards Mother, Mark Reed, Joey Blodgett, Jason Gessford, Michael Downey – Brother, Chris Downey – Brother, Trevor Hicks