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TIMEOUT by Joe Flanagan

Opportunity to help one of our own …

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really grown to enjoy the stories of athletes and coaches using their positions to help others less fortunate.
Oh, sure, we still see numerous headlines documenting the seamier side of athletics. But, for every Plaxico Burress, Michael Vick, Dontae Stallworth or Rick Pitino, there are dozens of shining lights, such as Kyle Petty, Dikembe Mutumbo, Tony Dungy and David Robinson, making the world a better place.
I’ve written previously in this space about causes I’ve become enamored and involved with, including Petty’s Victory Junction Gang Camp and George Martin’s “a Journey for 9/11”. And, of course, in Nebraska, we’re all familair with the annual Shrine Bowl and its support of Shriners’ Childrens Hospitals across the nation.
All these causes are great ones and I know many of you are involved in similar projects and charities. But isn’t it always just a little more satisfying when you can help one of your own?
Well, if you’re a Cardinal, past or present, an Albion High graduate, a local resident, a Nebraska native, or simply a parent or grandparent, here’s your chance. One of ours is suffering.
I’m sure many of you remember former Albion Principal Joe Matrisiciano and his family, including two athletic sons who played for the Cards. The younger, Tim, was a strapping linebacker for several excellent Albion football teams.
Tim has gone on to live the dream many of us have followed, marrying and raising a family in Nebraska, adoring a wonderful daughter.
Tragically, in July, that five-year old light of his world, Danielle, was diagnosed with leukemia and has been undergoing chemotherapy treatment at Children’s Hospital in Omaha.
Unfortunately, most of us have had experience with family members or friends stricken with cancer. Not so often with small children, however.
I cannot fully grasp what parents must feel in such a situation. I’ve been blessed in that regard. I do believe it must be the most terrifying, gut-wrenching nightmare any of us can imagine.
So, what can we do? Obviously, in such a situation, we can offer our support and prayers … and, possibly, help to lighten the family’s burden just a bit.
Anyone who knows Tim and his gregarious personality knows he has made many friends wherever he’s been – here in Albion, Lincoln, the Aurora area.
With Tim and his wife Teresa spending the past weeks at Danielle’s side, unable to work, a number of these friends have united to organize a benefit that will help defray some of the family’s medical bills and living expenses.
This benefit will be held Saturday at the Auditorium in Hampton (east of Aurora on HWY 34), featuring a barbeque, live auction and musical entertainment donated by Paul Phillips of Lincoln (5-10 p.m.). I’m told the auction, beginning at 7:30, will have some terrific items, many sports-related.
A fund has also been established at Home Federal Bank in Grand Island and donations can be mailed to any Home Federal branch. Anyone wishing to make monetary donations or donate items for the auction can contact Chris Schaffert in Aurora (402-631-7784) or Brian Stewart here in Albion.
I know many of Tim’s friends locally have already gotten involved with the event and a number are planning to attend. Hopefully, in one way or another, many more join in.
The early prognosis for Danielle is hopeful, but there’s a long, difficult road yet ahead for her and her family.
Your prayers can help heal a little girl. Your support of this benefit can help ease the worries of her parents.
A chance to help one of our own.