A standing-room-only crowd of basketball fans raised an astounding $37,000 during the “Black Out Cancer” benefit held for Keller Beech Wilson during the North Adams/Peebles game on Friday, Jan. 29. Keller is the three-year-old son of Jennifer Beech and Kyle Wilson, of Peebles.
“We are absolutely amazed by everyone’s generosity,” said event organizer, Mandy Knechtly. Knechtly, along with Carisa Kremin and Misty Arey, all of Peebles, organized the fund raiser after Keller was diagnosed with a rare form of A.L.L. Leukemia in early January.
The evening’s fund raising events included: a silent auction of donated items, the live auction of two basketballs signed by Keller and the members of both basketball teams and cheerleading squads, the selling of Black “Keller Strong” t-shirts, the selling of Southern Ohio Beard Society T-shirts and a 50/50 Split the Pot Raffle.
The highlight of the evening, a live skyping event with Keller and his parents, brought the crowd to their feet as the family’s image was projected in real time onto the wall of the gymnasium.
“It was an extraordinary night,” said Kremin, “We owe special thanks to Mr. Vogler and Scout Kremin for successfully bringing off the Skyping event, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.”
A “Be The Match” Bone Marrow Donor Drive was held throughout the evening. Seventy-nine people registered. “We had a wonderful night at the BE THE MATCH table,” said Beth Seaman, of Peebles, “Dannie Moore, representative from BE THE MATCH, said the night was a huge success. She said the average drive turns out around 25 donors, and we more than tripled that. And I’m still collecting swab kits. People of all ages came to visit us on Friday. We had people that were too young ask about registering to donate. We encouraged them to register with BE THE MATCH when they turn 18. Only those between 18-44 can register at donor drives, but anyone between the ages of 18-60 can request to have a kit sent to them through the mail by visiting the link http://join.bethematch.org/save2match16. Please keep in mind that anyone between the ages 45-60 will be assessed a $100 fee to register. It’s truly amazing the selfless act of so many.”
The evening was a demonstration of community cooperation at it’s best.
“Two communities came together to show what living in Adams County is all about,” posted Amy Huffman Swango on the PHS Boosters Facebook page. “Not Red or Green, but a sea of black raised over $12,000 for our little hero, Keller.”
Timothy Morrison of Seaman, also posted on the NA Boosters FaceBook page. “What an awesome turnout tonight at Peebles HS. I am proud of both our schools and our teams. What a great night to come out to help support Keller and his family. The money that was raised to help was great. Tonight was a win for Keller and the ball signed by both teams and cheerleaders was awesome. I am proud of our communities and our county. It was great night to help a great cause.”
The live auction, conducted by auctioneer Dean Brown raised $5,200. The autographed NA basketball was purchased by Deirdre Hutchinson Mills and the staff at NA Elementary School for $1,207. The winning bid for the autographed Peebles basketball went to the following businesses for $2,000: Ty Pell Surveying, Dean Brown-Auctioneer, McFarland Blacktop Sealing, Swango Logging, Lloyd Excavating, Roy Willman, Carla Wesley – Meigs Twp Fiscal Officer, Dr. David and Jodi Parrett, Peebles Youth Basketball, OK Auto Parts, County Line Carry Out, and Moose and Brenda Brown.
The afghan embroidered with “Keller Strong” was purchased by Jeanmarie Decker, Alton Swayne, and the Athletic Boosters for $2,000. The First State Bank kicked off the Split the Pot drawing with a $100 donation. The drawing, which raised $2,000, was won by Shawn R Hudge,l who donated the winnings back to the Keller.
The Silent Auction raised $3,900. “We are so grateful to everyone who donated items for the silent auction,” said organizer Misty Arey, “The people who placed bids were incredibly generous, we all feel so blessed to be able to do this for Keller and his family.”
The Southern Ohio Beard Society raised $1,100, and the Athletic Boosters concessions another $1,000. All of the “Keller Strong” T-shirts sold out in the first ten minutes. The remaining funds were individual donations of money presented to the Keller Strong benefit throughout the evening.
“There are things more important than basketball and you saw that tonight,” said Peebles boys varsity coach Josh Arey. “We appreciated both crowds tonight and it was a wonderful atmosphere.”
Donations and ideas for fundraisers are still coming in.
Emily Young posted the following on her Facebook page: Coin Wars! Calling all COINS!!!! Okay friends, West Union Elementary School is collecting Coins for Keller. Keller Beech Wilson is the 3- year old son of our fourth grade teacher Jennifer Beech. Each homeroom’s collections will be weighed daily, with the winning classroom earning a pizza party. My third graders are very competitive, so I’m asking all my friends to clean out their couches, empty the bottom of their purses, clean out the cup holders in your car, and donate! We have until Feb. 12 to collect all your spare change. PS— If our school raises $2000 we have a promise that a certain principal will shave his head.
To donate to the Keller Strong fund, or to purchase “Keller Strong” T-shirts, contact Carisa Kremin at 937-779-7648, Misty Arey at 937-798-1733, or Mandy Knechtly at 937-470-3986.