Derrick White essay
From 2004 to 2008, I proudly played rec league football with some of my best friends, even to this day, for the Mt. Carmel Rams; a local football program that created a reputation known around the state for its community involvement. We played hard, loud, and fast – almost like the ’87 Miami Hurricanes in 10-year-old bodies – with nothing but passion for what our jerseys and our park represented. The only problem with our program was that a large majority of our families couldn’t always afford the player tuition that was required. To help these parents, Mt. Carmel would host an annual raffle that would go towards helping to pay the players’ tuitions as well as maintaining and promoting the culture that our program had become famous for. The Mt. Carmel Raffle was known for helping to spread the park’s reputation around the community just hours after tickets were released.
Thanks to the raffle, almost 200 players per year, including myself and my little brother, were able to differ up to 50% off tuition. With help from our parents, we would mainly sell our tickets to teachers and family members. The community would show so much support for our cause and our sport by making these small donations and it became common for them to come out to Saturday evening games – to cheer us on and also to see if they would win the raffle. The park made the raffle interesting by providing raffle prizes that ranged from framed youth players’ jerseys that were signed, spirit gear packages, and full scholarships if a parent was the winner. With our family and teachers as frequent buyers and such unique prizes, the Mt. Carmel raffle became an annual method to bring the entire community out to support the players, the park, and our parents’ wallets.
Looking back on the annual raffles, I can say that I learned a lot of lessons that have stuck with me for so many years. At the time, it was just about raising money so that I could play football with my friends, but over the years I’ve come to realize how those raffle tickets really created a foundation for the community to come together to stand behind us. I also learned the importance of having a strong community that actually supported their youth’s activities. While teachers rarely saw any winning benefit from the raffle, seeing them cheering us on in the stands on a weekend showed that they supported us on and off the fields and that’s a feeling I wish every kid could experience. On top of that, I saw all of the opportunities that the park and our parents created to let us live out our 10-year-old dreams. Mt. Carmel was like my second home; my teammates being my brothers and my coaches being like 9 dads. They taught us about patience, responsibility, and the importance of determination. However, one of the most important lessons that I learned was that nothing would come free; but, like a raffle, where there’s opportunity, there’s also a chance for success.
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