By Kevin Eickman
One of the key elements that is required to run a safe and successful football program is community support. While there is usually money allocated in the annual school budget for athletics, no sport necessitates a greater need for funding than football. One annual fundraiser which the Milford Buccaneers have come to rely on is its yearly golf outing. “The annual golf outing is just one of the things we do to help our program. The cost of equipment continues to rise, adding more and more pressure to an already stretched budget,” Milford head coach Shaun Strickland said.
This year was an especially challenging event to pull off, considering the impact that COVID-19 has had on gatherings that people usually didn’t even give a second thought to. Originally scheduled for June 6, the event was pushed back until July 24 at The Rookery North to ensure that a fun and safe event could be enjoyed by the Buccaneers’ faithful supporters. “We looked very hard at ways to make sure that the outing would be fun. That meant taking some extra precautions and ensuring we complied with health regulations to ensure safety,” Strickland said. “There were times when I thought we would not be able to pull it off, but a lot of people came through for us and we were able to have the event.”
The day ended up being a successful one for the program as 104 participants played golf and participated in auction events to raise money for the football program. “Considering we had to push it back so far and with all the uncertainty involved, we couldn’t help but be pleased with the turnout,” Strickland said. “People really stepped up big time for the program.”
With the all fall sports seasons in Delaware moved to the spring, this places fall athletes in a strange position. With no in-school activities for at least the first six weeks of the school year, a lot of responsibility is being placed on the athletes themselves to maintain conditioning. “Our players know what they need to do, it’s just a matter of self-discipline on their part to come in ready to play if and when we get rolling,” Strickland said.
The Greater Good
While the event was mostly centered around funding for the football team, there was one former Buccaneer who was also a beneficiary of the supporters’ generosity. There was a special hole set up for recent Milford graduate Eric Bennett, who is battling both kidney and heart issues. Diagnosed with these problems back in November, Strickland among others came up with the idea for a way to help Bennett during his hour of need. This is expected to be a long process with many challenges along the way. “Eric gave all he had in both football and wrestling to our school, it was nice to be able to step up and do what we could for him,” Strickland stated.
The donations kept on mounting during the day, with the total reaching $3,000. “I was able to see Eric the next day and it was great to be able to help him out just a little bit,” Strickland said. “Right now, we are just hoping and praying for him, any support the community can provide for him is greatly needed.”
Bennett, his girlfriend Tovah and their daughter Layla Reese, have been trying to stay strong during these difficult times. There is an opportunity for Milford to once again show what we are all about, there is a GoFundMe page set up to help with expenses:
Anything you can give will help. There is also information on the page about how you can help if you would like to be an organ donor as well. “We are Milford” is more than just a phrase, it is who we are as a community. When one of our own needs our help, we have a history of stepping up to the plate. Let this time be no different.