By Betsy Veysman
Although the Buffalo wrestling team dropped a 22-18 decision to MAC foe Ohio on January 29 at home, there was an important victory for the Bulls and their fans that day — the team raised over $23,000 during its third annual Takedown Cancer event.
The Takedown Cancer project started three years ago to benefit former Buffalo wrestler Jeff Parker, who was battling melanoma at the time. The proceeds helped Parker and his family while he was going through treatments for the disease.
Parker passed away in the spring of 2010, but the effort continued. According to Buffalo head coach Jim Beichner, the team works in concert with Carly’s Club of Western New York to choose a family with a young child going through cancer treatments and then raises money to help that family.
Beichner said that most of the funds raised this year came from raffling off prizes, such as flat screen televisions, at the dual, as well as from donations. Several high schools also ran their own events and provided their earnings to the cause.
“We felt the Takedown Cancer event was a big success,” Beichner said. “It was a great crowd. Of course it was extremely disappointing to lose the dual, but we achieved the goal of raising a substantial amount of money.”
“Being able to compete and raise money means a lot to me and anyone who knew Jeff [Parker],” added senior Kevin Smith, who was a teammate of Parker’s during his freshman year with the Bulls. “Jeff was a guy that everyone got along with; a guy who was fun to be around. But he also was involved in a lot of things outside of wrestling. He won the Chancellor’s Award as the best Scholar-Athlete. He was a great role model for me, so I am so glad we are continuing the Takedown Cancer cause.”
Those on hand at Alumni Arena were able to witness the impact the cause has had. Last year’s recipient of the Takedown Cancer funds was at the dual, in full remission despite an unfavorable initial prognosis. In fact, the young girl performed the coin flip before the match began.
“Our team has been affected by this greatly,” Beichner said. “When we went to give the family the check, the expressions on their faces were incredible. It was touching in ways I can’t explain. Having the guys see how they’re touching a life in a positive way is a pretty amazing thing.”
Beichner said the team will once again hold the Takedown Cancer dual next year and urges others to become involved.
“I challenge others to do an event or contribute to ours,” he said. “We have the road map in place and can point people in the right direction. I hope more people will participate because it changes your life to help these children and their families.”
To find out more about Takedown Cancer or to get involved please contact:
Joe Muscarella, Co-founder at firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about the organizations involved in this event:
http://www.jeffparkerfoundation.org/ (Jeff Parker Foundation)
http://giving.roswellpark.org/Page.aspx?pid=310 (Carly’s Club)