Harlem Ambassadors put the ‘fun’ in fundraising for United Way
By LeAnne Gompf
The United Way Kickoff was a success as Harlem Ambassadors entertain the crowd.
The community event and Morrow County United Way Kickoff provided good, clean, family fun for nearly 900 spectators. The Harlem Ambassadors vs. the ‘Hometown Heroes’ basketball game succeeded in not only lifting the spirits of those in attendance but also raising over $8000 for the local United Way campaign.
Jodi Hayes, Director for the local United Way Chapter, commented, “I was thrilled with the community support by the attendance and sponsorship of this event. What a joy to see children and families laughing and having such a good time.”
The Harlem Ambassadors professional basketball show is intended to help local organizations’ efforts to raise funds for worthy causes. They delivered exactly what they promised; quality basketball yet designed to entertain with tried and true gags.
According to the Ambassadors’ mission statement, “Our operation is professional in all aspects. In addition to having a wholesome family entertainment product, we are also good citizens and willing role models for youth.” At the conclusion of the evening’s event the Harlem Ambassadors spoke of the importance of staying in school, remaining drug free and encouraged racial harmony for people of all ages.
The Ambassadors demonstrated good will as they took on the local Special Olympics basketball team coached by Aaron Cleveland. Members of the Special Olympic team included Scott Schaupert, Brandon Kasales, Mike Knipp, Jason Pryor, Matt Ohler, Penny Cranston, Josh Stuber, Garett Bader, David Sargel and Ellen Shipman. The team was not ruffled in anyway by the friendly “mayhem” of the Ambassadors and played their best game.
The crowd encouraged and cheered their “Hometown Heroes” with each basket or foul shot made. In the additional three quarters of play, community members, coached by Chris Traux, attempted to keep up with the Harlem Ambassadors, never quite sure which direction the game was going to take. Like watching an old comedy, the Ambassadors performed time tested gags, prompting the player to “join” in the spirit of fun and entertainment.
Morrow County Heroes team included Gary Bartlett, Kurt Keplinger, Steve Keen, Randy Chilcote, Joe Schueler, Scott Pauley, Shawn Wilhelm, Caleb Duncan, Chris Rupe, Ben Pletcher, Ben Granger, Jessie Marlow, Al Marlow, Ryan Oates and Kirsten Ebert.
At one point in the fourth quarter the Ambassadors huddled up to strategize their next move leaving the Hometown Heroes asking “are we still playing basketball?” Without missing a beat, the Hometown Heroes quickly adapted to the change of pace and scored not one, but two “touchdowns”!
The 2012–2013 United Way campaign goal is $130,000. For the past several years the Morrow County Chapter has not been able to meet their financial goal but with the generosity of sponsors and community support for the kickoff the board is hopeful this will be a good year and the goal will be met or surpassed.
The kickoff event would not have been successful without the volunteer efforts of the local agencies that Morrow County United Way supports. Those agencies include American Red Cross, Emergency Resource Council – Food Pantry, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Seniors on Center, Recovery and Prevention Services, Marion Shelter Program, Maryhaven, and Turning Point. Additionally the event sponsors are to be praised for financially making it possible to bring family entertainment to Morrow County.
The United Way board would like to thank Century 21 Bob McElroy Realty; Carol Lessick, Realtor for Century 21 Bob McElroy Realty; Holiday Inn and Suites-Marion; Morrow County Hospital; Helpline of Morrow and Delware Counties; hope Cabins and Banquet,LLC; Seniors of Center; Consolidated Electric Cooperative; Shoppers Compass; Kiwanis Club of Mount Gilead; First Federal Bank of Ohio; Chesterville Sand and Gravel Co, Inc.; Market Morrow; Woodside Village Care Center; Wenger Builders, Karcher Trucking; Lilly Industries; Carlyle Smith Feed; Highland Middle and High School; and First Know National Bank. Pat Davies, Morrow County Director of Operations and Dan Rogers, Mount Gilead Village Administartor volunteered their officiating expertise for the evening and found that the “official rules” for the game, as they know it, did not exist.
Other game events included the auctioning of the official game ball autographed by the Harlem Ambassadors and purchased by Steve Keen, Branch Manager of First Federal Bank of Ohio and The Shoppers Compass, a half-time show with spectators filling the gymnasium floor to kick up their heels and dance a line dance with the Harlem Ambassadors; and a three point shooting competition by area high school outstanding players.
The Hometown Heroes failed to fill the gap in the score as the game progressed and in the end lost to the Harlem Ambassadors, but overall the evening was a hometown success on behalf of United Way of Morrow County, the county that COULD!
For more information on how you can support the local United Way, contact Director Jodi Hayes at 419–946-2053 or mail your contributions directly to her at United Way of Morrow County P.O. Box 84 Mount Gilead, Ohio 43338.