Archive for Thursday, February 19, 2004

Seniors aid injured Mill Valley athlete

February 19, 2004

Monday night, a handful of Basehor-Linwood High School football players taught the community a quick lesson in generosity.

Seniors Tyler Dowdall, Ian Abbott, Corey Jones, Kris Johnson and Ryan Robinson helped organize a fund-raising campaign that went toward helping Michael Kowal, the injured Mill Valley football player, who was rendered partially paralyzed after suffering a severe neck injury during a freak accident at practice back in August.

The idea to help was born shortly after the accident occurred. But it wasn't until recently that the BLHS football players had the time to make the fund-raiser happen.

"We knew we wanted to do something then," Dowdall said. "We just didn't know what."

But after a short brainstorming session, Dowdall remembered that in the past the team had cooked and sold ribs for other fund-raisers, so why not do it for this.

At last month's Bobcat Classic wrestling tournament, the group began taking donations and passing the word around.

After a few weeks of prepartion, the event took place last weekend at Dowdall's house.

Friends, faculty and members of the Basehor-Linwood community stopped by for the rib-fest, and in all the Bobcats sold 128 slabs of ribs at $13 per slab. After clearing costs, that left the group with a $910 check, which they presented to Michael and his father Pat at halftime of Monday's BLHS-MVHS boys basketball game.

Basehor-Linwood athletic director Joe Keeler said the idea for the fund-raiser came solely from those involved.

"No one put a bug in their ear or anything like that," Keeler said. "Obviously I'm very proud of them and I think it's a great testament to their character and leadership. They're terrific young men."

Mike has spent the past several months in rehab, including a three-month stint at a Denver hospital. Since his return home to Shawnee, Michael has been greeted with overwhelming support on a daily basis.

But most of that support has come from within the Mill Valley community. Even though they've gotten used to people going out of their way to help them, the latest batch of generosity overwhelmed even the Kowals.

"I thought that was just awesome," Michael's mother, Patricia Kowal said. "I have a lot of respect for those young men for being able to think outside of their own school and their own community to help someone out. People don't always give youth a lot of credit for their generosity, especially this day and age. But that was just a wonderful gesture and we are very grateful."

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