EATON — Since its inception two years ago, National Trail’s Buckeye Day has brought in close to $50,000 to be used toward community outreach. The money is split between National Trail School Districts’ two food banks, National Trail School District, Preble County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and the Driven Foundation.
This past Buckeye Day was held on Friday, March 10, and brought 10 Ohio State alumni football players to the school to host a day of community outreach. They offered elementary school reading visits, middle and high school assemblies, a charity basketball game, and a barbecue dinner.
Tickets were sold for the family barbecue dinner, which featured dinner, guest speakers, a silent auction, a live auction, entertainment, and free Buckeye autographs. Proceeds from the day went to the five groups and will go toward their programming.
The groups came together on Tuesday, Sept. 26, and recognized the good the funds did for their organizations and discussed their plans for this year’s outreach day.
“We wanted to commemorate what we did. The checks have been issued. Then we also wanted to have an early kick off. We want to go bigger and better than what we have,” National Trail Superintendent Jeff Parker said. “This was an opportunity to get together and recognize what was done — because that money is working now for different groups. We’re just hoping that we can start to kick some things off and get it out in front of people again.”
“This is close to $50,000 that has been raised the past two years,” he continued. “This is money that goes to Preble County, but also what Roy [Hall] does with the Driven Foundation in Franklin County. We’re working together to be united on different fronts, so I think that is exciting.”
He added, the school district chose to use its portion of the money to help fund the Preble County Success School Liaison, which is a program that pairs the schools with a liaison who works with students to meet any needs they might have.
“The goal of the outreach day is to leverage and utilize the platform of Ohio State Football to make a difference out of people cheering when we score touchdowns,” Roy Hall, founder of the Driven Foundation and former Ohio State Buckeye, said. “You yell ‘OH’ anywhere and nine time out of 10 people are yelling ‘IO.’
“That’s great, but people are cheering because they’re winners and I think the one thing that is lacking is that in life there isn’t that consistency — we aren’t winning. We’re losing a battle, specifically against heroin addiction. That is across the board, Ohio is number one across the nation. What we’re trying to do, is not necessary just to fight that battle, but to get the Buckeyes in front of this fight to get people’s attention.
“It is one thing to have a discussion with the principal and staff, but it is another to take these professional athletes and use their status to drive an intentional wedge and to bring attention to the cause at hand,” Hall continued. “We’re solving it through service and spending time in the schools. Obviously our community dinner helps, where we really get a chance to talk to the parents and staff members about why we’re there.
“Every year we get bigger and get better ideas. I’m looking forward to being able to serve. It’s only September, but it is never too early to think of what we have going on for 2018.”
For Preble County DD, they’ve been using the money from the outreach day to train and treat their individuals.
“We’re using the money that was raised and that we were given for self advocacy. For our individuals to have the opportunity to attend trainings, both locally and regionally. They learn the skills to be able to speak up for themselves,” DD Superintendent Bethany Shultz said.
“Anytime we can partner with anybody in the community is awesome,” she said. “It takes a community to help everyone to make us better. Strong communities build stronger abilities — that is kind of what we’re focusing on. Through this it builds an awareness of what services we do and in turn it helped us to partner with other agencies — like the success liaisons. That was huge and very beneficial.”
DD Outreach Coordinator Amanda Kopf added, “The first event that we’re actually using this money for is our Regional Self Advocacy meeting. We have one big meeting a year. We are able to bring a group of folks that we are trying to mold into being confident speaking in the community to this meeting.
“This one is special, because they get grab bags and get very excited. This is the meeting about telling their story. When they find out they don’t have to pay for their lunch and they get a free t-shirt they’re over the moon. Who doesn’t love to feel a little special? We wouldn’t be able to do that if it weren’t for the money we get from the Driven Foundation.”
According to Pastor Jeff Ginter, their portion of the funds help the food pantries purchase fresh produce and continue to provide programs like mental health counseling and connect people with employment services and healthcare. For him, what stands out about Buckeye Days is the model it provides to Preble County to emulate and copy in the future.
“What I think is awesome about the event is that, like Roy [Hall] talks about, the platform that Ohio State Football has. What is does for Preble County and our area is it is a model,” Ginter said. “We can really take a hold of. They bring awareness and do all these different things addressing many different issues and they don’t just talk about it where they’re at in Franklin County, they talk about it here.
“You see a lot of talk about issues, but when the participation stays outside of that area the effect is very little,” he added. “When we actually go to where the problems are and speak out — it can be a touchdown. That is a great model, because we all have a platform. What little resources we may have, we can apply it right where the need is.”
Kopf echoed his sentiments. She added, “As a mother of two young boys, the point that I really appreciated with having the Buckeyes come out is that kids really want to be professional football players, because of the money. So, the Buckeyes come out and talk about issues and they realize that being a football player would mean helping people. I always tell my kids that no matter what they do, there’s always an opportunity to make an impact.”
“We don’t want to feed people fish, we want to teach them how to fish,” Parker said. “That is what everyone involved believes. We have to strengthen communities and our education. This is an opportunity that we have to go beyond where our roles and positions are.”
While all four organizations appreciate the funds they received from Outreach Day, they all echoed — any amount of donation helps.
“It is important to give what you can. Here our agency is a nonprofit agency. There is no donation that is too small. Whether that is in their money or time to support what we’re doing,” Shultz said. “We host many communities events, so even their time donation to hang out with our folks would be appreciated. We’re about to hold a Track or Treat, so donating candy or money so we could buy candy would be great. The same about this partnership — no amount is too small.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH