‘Secret Sneaker Squad’ Helps Supply Tennis Shoes To Kids Enrolled In Local Parks & Rec Programs

Local youth from Harrison and surrounding counties will benefit from money raised during Antero’s 2nd annual Oil and Gas Dodgeball Tournament to be held Friday, June 16, 2017 at Hite Field in Clarksburg.

Debra T. Varner, board member of both Patrons of the Park and Harrison County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board as well as shareholder at McNeer, Highland, McMunn and Varner, L.C., knows the importance of the event for the kids in the area.

“The dodge ball tournament will help raise funds for ‘The Secret Sneaker Squad’, an organization created by the Patrons of the Park Foundation, a non-profit organization that raises funds for children associated with any of the programs of the Harrison County Parks and Recreation,” stated Varner. “Our goal is to make sure each child who attends both the Energy Express and Summer Parks Programs in Harrison County has the opportunity to purchase a new pair of tennis shoes to play safely outside during the summer.  Last year, we were able to provide 600 pairs of shoes and our goal this year is to make the project bigger.”

Antero Resources, who played a vital role in the success of the event last July, was asked to partner again this year and representative Shawn Bennett, also a member of the Patrons and the Park board, was eager to jump on board.

“Last year, we formed a committee that worked effortlessly to ensure that we were able to raise enough money to provide pairs of shoes to the children who attended the Parks and Energy Express Programs in Harrison County. To see the faces of so many children light up when we handed out the vouchers for them to buy a pair of brand new shoes was priceless so it was a very easy decision for our team to decide to come together again this year,” Bennett explained.

The vouchers are handed out by the Harrison County Parks and Recreation staff as well as mentors and volunteers at the Energy Express program when the child comes to register for the season. Each child will receive a voucher for $35 to be used for tennis shoes at the Shoe Carnival located at East Pointe Plaza in Clarksburg. During last year’s shoe drive, Sean Conley, GM of the Shoe Carnival, offered an additional 30% discount to all those who provided a voucher for purchase.

Doug Comer, Deputy Director of Harrison County Parks and Rec, has worked along with the HCPR Advisory Board ensuring that the vouchers are getting printed, sorted and passed out to the kids in the area. With nine parks sites in the area and four EE sites, he manages distribution of the vouchers.

“Once we get the final draft approved of our vouchers, then we take the ball and run with it,” said Comer. “We have the vouchers printed and myself or other staff travel to all the sites and hand out the vouchers to the parents, guardians and kids. The feedback we get from family members is heartwarming as they show their appreciation through kind words, hugs and tears of happiness.”

The Parks and Recreation Summer Parks Program has nine locations in Harrison County while the Energy Express provides four including two new sites in Lumberport and Lost Creek. The Park’s program provides a safe and fun-filled environment full of recreation, arts and crafts as well as enrichments. Energy Express is a summer reading program that helps children fight the ‘summer slide’ they face when school is not in session as well as provide nutritious meals at breakfast and lunch.

“Sometimes it is hard for a working parent to find a safe and healthy environment to take their children during summer and that is exactly what we offer all of our children who attend our programs,” said Comer. “We have upwards of 600 kids during the programs, and with the additional sites, we are expecting a minimum of 100 more kids.”

Michelle Woerner, Antero employee and committee advisor, has handled registration for the event and the numbers look good so far this year.

“This year we currently have 24 dodgeball teams and added another caveat to the event in flag football, where we have eight teams to date. In addition, we have six food vendors and we are still getting calls from local businesses that want to be a part of the event,” said Woerner. “Of course, with a charitable event this size you can never have ‘too much’, so we are always looking for sponsors and teams to join in on the fun,” Woerner added.

The Parks and Energy Express programs plan to have kids on site and there will be several activities in which kids can participate. Also, there will be several local vendors setting up along with the Shoe Carnival on the day of the event to give prizes out to kids and to ensure that they have a great time.

Registration will begin at 9:00 a.m. and the first ball will be thrown at 10:00 a.m. Teams comprised of both men and women from the oil and gas industry, state police, local law enforcement, law firms and many others will be competing.

Trophies will be handed out to the winners of the events and there will be raffle prizes awarded. Also, a dunk booth has been set up and there will be surprise guests hopping in the booth to take a dip from accurate throwers.

“You never know who will end up in the dunking booth,” said Chip Corsini, Vice President of Patrons of the Park and President of Farmer’s Mutual Insurance. “The tournament is about having fun while doing something good for our youth. The ‘Secret Sneaker Squad’ is one of many projects that The Patrons of The Park Foundation helps in Harrison County, and to be able to walk in the door after a long day of planning an event like this really brings a smile to my face knowing that we have helped the children in our community because really these are the children of our future.  Who could ask for more?”

“Many people haven’t played dodge ball in years, but if you want to have a great time and support a great cause, this is definitely an event that will be well worth your time.” stated Mrs. Varner.

If you want to sponsor a team or sponsor the event, there is plenty of time left to get involved. Please contact Shawn Bennett or Michelle Woerner at Antero Resources for more information.

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