By: Jill Fox
While most people were prepping their turkeys and setting the table, young Parkland athletes were up early on Thanksgiving morning playing flag football for a great cause.
Despite the occasional rain shower, 45 children made up the four teams for the fifth annual Parkland Turkey Bowl: Cassidy’s Cranberries, Litman’s Leftovers, Safra’s Stuffing, and Golden’s Gobblers.
The voluntary flag football game at Pine Trails Park, organized by four Parkland fathers, has become a highly anticipated event raising money for local causes. Past beneficiaries include SOS Children’s Village, Challenger Baseball, and Parkland Buddy Sports.
This year, they chose again to donate to Parkland Buddy Sports, with a lofty fundraising goal of $5,000.
“We didn’t reach our goal of $5,000,” said Turkey Bowl co-founder Brian Litman, “This year, we raised $6,000 for Parkland Buddy Sports.”
Mayor Rich Walker, also in attendance, said the Turkey Bowl brings the community together and shows how blessed we are.
“Buddy Sports is a fantastic organization that also brings the community together, so to see this is really special,” he said.
In true Parkland fashion, the event has special-made jerseys, food, drinks, music, and even and a masseuse for those on the sidelines.
Kick-off followed a performance of the National Anthem by Marjory Stoneman Douglas sophomore Angelina Kennedy, whose brother, Anthony, 10, played for the winning team.
“I love singing the National Anthem, and having them ask me back every year is just awesome,” said Kennedy.
A half-time show featured live music and a pie-eating contest, and the morning concluded with Cassidy’s Cranberries winning the coveted Turkey Bowl trophy, which will remain in the coach’s possession until 2022.
Coach Nick Cassidy, father to Christian, 14, and Jameson, 10, said they started 0 and 4, and to come out this year on the fifth anniversary and break records for Parkland Buddy Sports was unbelievable.
“It’s my favorite day of the year, and it’s one of my biggest accomplishments,” Cassidy said.
Parkland Buddy Sports President Bob Mayersohn said the funds would help the organization continue providing fee-free programming for children with special needs.
“We are humbled and grateful that they selected us again to be a beneficiary,” he said. “It truly shows how we as a community continue to thrive.”
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