The Optimist Club of Dundalk celebrated its annual Rec Night dinner Tuesday evening that finished with the awarding of local community athletic programs that support youth sports activities with donations that will help fund these organizations.
Despite the loss of her father Mr. Richard Ivey Sasser, Sr. who was killed in a vehicle crash on Friday, Feb. 1, Barbara Fisher, the club's secretary, fought through her grief to assist with the night's events because she felt she was needed and did not want to disappoint the children.
The annual event provides funds for the various youth athletic programs in the southeast area.
The event starts with a dinner followed by the club's President, Paul Kram, presenting the raised money to the various programs.
Some interesting facts about some of the groups revealed that there are girls who compete with the boys in the wrestling program of the Dundalk Hawks. Emory Williams, the team's coach, has two wrestlers who are girls in the 6 and 7 age group and made note that one of his girls made it to the regionals at the high school level competing with the boys.
Mr. Williams noted that the program includes 110 children that utilized the North Government Center and it would be a great loss to not only his efforts but to all the amateur sports programs in the area if the building is sold.
Another program worthy of the donation it received was the James Ransom Fund for special needs children and adults from ages 6 through 21. The program is run by Debbie McConnaughey.
Bill Whitcomb runs the Dundalk Dragons Lacrosse team which has 50 members in the 6-8 age group.
Chris Baxter's Eastfield soccer program includes 300 members.
Rob Fisher, Barb's husband and team assistant, runs the Dundalk unlimited football program which allows children who are over the weight class to play organized football. Their team is named the Southeast Warriors. Rob stressed more about sportsmanship and maturity for his players than winning.
John Nelson runs the Eastfield baseball program which has 230 members from 5 to 15.
The one issue that galvanized all the participants was the potential loss of the government center and its playing fields and indoor facilities. The general consensus was for the county to leave it alone because they depend on it for many of their programs.
All of the various coaches where adamant about the importance of the government center and the problems it would create for youth sports programs if the fields and center were lost.
In the end, former President and Board Member Bill Hartlove stood and thanked each coach for their efforts to not only give access to the youth in these various programs, but in their efforts to provide learning lessons in life.