With fall fast approaching, local football teams are headed back to camp in preparation for a season of squaring up on the field to determine the region’s best; the Athens Wildcats and the Canton Warriors however will be focused on a bigger battle in September.
The Wildcats and Warriors have announced that they will be working with Team Corageous and Timmy Ward Strong, two community groups that supported Bradford County students Cora Weldy and Timmy Ward as they overcame childhood cancer, to raise money for two more young locals fighting to overcome the disease, Ariah Cooke and Seeley Carlin.
The Gold Out Game fundraiser will be hosted on Sept. 20 during this year’s Athens homecoming game against the Warriors where all funds, including those from a penny war in each school leading up to the game, Gold Out T-shirt sales and the night’s gate admission, will be donated to Cooke and Carlin’s families.
Tracey Weldy, Team Corageous representative and Cora Weldy’s mother, explained that the idea for the joint fundraiser came after personal benefits for Carlin and Cooke were not as successful as had been hoped and she teamed up with Timmy Ward’s mom Michelle to brainstorm — with September being Child Cancer Awareness Month and both schools agreeing to a football battle against childhood cancer, the Gold Out game was born.
“I don’t even know what words to use; it’s exciting. We’re just a part of a silly game so to be able to make it bigger; I think it’s just going to be awesome. Just another example of how communities come together,” stated Athens varsity football coach Jack Young.
“This is great, we’re really excited about this and I think it’ll be a great thing for the community to rally around these kids and help to get this snowballing,” said Canton varsity football coach Tyler Seachrist, adding that it’s a great way to pay forward support the Warriors received after Ward’s diagnosis last year.
Timmy Ward explained that the game serves as a “cool” way to blend one of his favorite hobbies with assisting others in overcoming cancer, the toughest opponent he’s ever faced.
“It’s great, just knowing what they went through and how they feel right now and all that and then having somebody come help you and everything, it feels good to be able to do that for somebody,” he said. “It’s cool to be able to be able to kind of start something to help younger kids or anyone who’s going through the same thing that you went through.”
His mother Michelle agreed, stating that it’s much easier to give than to receive in situations such as this and that taking part in the Gold Out is one way the Wards can say thank you to the community for the support that was given throughout Timmy’s treatment.
“This is our way to hopefully start giving back to everyone who gave to us and then some and being able to help those kids that are in the same position as Timmy and recognizing and knowing what they are currently going through is a big deal,” she commented.
Cora Weldy, who has now been cancer free for two years, said that when she first entered into recovery she did not want to talk about her fight against cancer and wasn’t as active in Team Corageous, but has since become close to Ariah and sees her former diagnosis as a way to connect to and mentor her as she overcomes it as well.
“It’s cool just looking at the community and how much it’s grown – with Timmy there was so much support and then to see it go to these kids it’s really amazing – we really can do amazing things, they have raised so much money,” she said of the community.
Both football teams will sport gold socks, with all cheerleaders wearing gold bows during the Gold Out game. T-shirts can be purchased through the Gold Out Facebook page or by contacting Tracey Weldy or Michelle Ward.